Gorkhaland activists turn down Buddhadeb’s talks offer


Kolkata/Siliguri : West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Monday invited the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for talks to improve the law and order situation in Jalpaiguri district, but the activists turned down the offer amid clashes in the Dooars.

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Bhattacharjee invited GJM president Bimal Gurung for talks in a message sent through state Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen.

“In view of the law and order situation in Jalpaiguri, the chief minister has requested Gurung to sit together for discussion,” Sen told reporters.

“And with the tri-partite dialogue process on in Delhi, both the centre and the state have urged the GJM to show restraint. So, the chief minister has requested Gurung to come to Kolkata,” he said.

However, in Darjeeling GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said a firm no.

“We won’t go to Kolkata.. They should first permit us to hold meetings in the Dooars. Our supporters are being beaten. So, the state government must assure us our safety and security,” Giri said.

Meanwhile, there were fresh clashes between the activists of the GJM and Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Bikash Parishad (ABABP) at Laxmipara in the Dooars area of Jalpaiguri district.

The incident occurred at a tea garden under Banarhat police station, leaving several people and two policemen injured.

District police superintendent Manoj Verma said the combating groups used stones, and indulged in arson, besides damaging houses. “We are trying to bring the situation under control.”

ABABP Terai and Dooars coordination committee president John Barla alleged his house was also attacked by GJM activists.

Special Inspector General of police (Jalpaiguri Range) Zulfiqar Hassan said one company of the Central Reserve Police Force has reached Siliguri, and would conduct flag march and patrolling in the affected areas. Three more companies of the paramilitary personnel would arrive in the next couple of days.

Meanwhile, orders banning gathering of more than four people continued to be in operation in Malbazar, Jaigaon, Nagrakata and Banarhat areas of the Dooars.

The GJM, fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state, brought out a rally onway to Malbazar for a scheduled meeting, but was stopped 10 km from the spot.

The police said the party will not be allowed to hold its meeting at Nagrakata also Tuesday.

The GJM workers staged a noisy demonstration when stopped, and promised to do the same in Nagrakata Tuesday.

But Gurung warned the movement could turn violent if the government did not stop its repressive measures. “We will continue our agitation in the Gandhian mode. But if need be, we will switch over to the path shown by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose”.

The GJM and the ABABP fought a pitched battle Friday, while at least 10 people – including two senior police officers – were injured in fresh violence Saturday.

The Adivasis are opposing the GJM’s bid to include the plains areas in their agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state.

The GJM has been leading a movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district.

The central government in 2005 conferred Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), ensuring greater autonomy to the governing body.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills had witnessed violence for about two years.