SILIGURI, 20 DEC: The fourth tripartite talks on a Gorkha outfit’s demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland carved out of West Bengal will be held tomorrow even as the Centre warned that the situation might turn critical if its leadership remained inflexible and stuck to its position.
Though the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) has demanded that crucial talks here should be held at the political level the meeting will be attended by only officials. The GJMM has been pressing for creating Gorkhaland state from Darjeeling hills and portions of the adjoining plains.
The 21 December tripartite talks on the Darjeeling Hill situation would be a follow-up of the previous talks held in New Delhi, the Union home secretary, Mr GK Pillai and state chief secretary Mr Ashok Mohan Chakraborty said at Bagdogra Airport, after they arrived with their teams for tomorrow’s talks in Darjeeling.
“Tomorrow’s talks are a follow-up of the previous talks held in New Delhi in August,” said Mr Pillai, who is leading Centre’s delegation, comprising Mr Nirmaljeet Singh Kalsi, joint secretary, Union home department, Ms Anita Choudhury, special secretary, Mr PN Saxena, the deputy secretary of the same department and Mr Rajiv Mathur, director, IB.
Speaking at the airport, the state chief secretary, who is leading the state’s delegation, said: “The meeting is expected to focus principally on development of the Darjeeling Hills. And if the GJMM leadership proposes to speak on the Gorkhaland issue, we are ready to give them a patient hearing.” The chief secretary, however, refused to reply to the GJMM leadership’s walkout threat if the statehood issue were to be cold-shouldered in course of the negotiations. Meanwhile, Siliguri MLA and state urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya today appealed to the people, opposed to state division demand to have confidence in the state government. “The state government would not buckle under pressure on the sensitive issue. However, we are hopeful of a positive outcome from the talks,” he said. He also urged the anti-Gorkhaland groups to cooperate with the administration to maintain law and order in the region.
Meanwhile, activists of the anti-Gorkhaland pressure group, Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee have embarked on a relay fasting from this morning in Siliguri, protesting against what they have called “unconstitutional” dialogue with some aliens from Nepal. The fasting would continue tomorrow when the tripartite negotiations on the long lingering Darjeeling tangle would take place in Darjeeling. “The relay fasting might become a fast unto death if the Centre announces any concession to the GJMM in contravention of the rule of the law as enshrined in the Constitution,” said the BOBBC president, Dr Mukunda Majumder.
Gearing up for tomorrow’s bandh, the two anti-Gorkhaland pressure groups, the BOBBC and the Aamra Bangali have decided to make the shutdown an unprecedented success.
“We would stage roadblocks everywhere in the region, particularly in Siliguri and its adjoining areas. This apart, we would go for picketing at every government and private offices,” the spokespersons of the two organizations have threatened.
According to the BOBBC president, Dr Mukunda Majumder, his organisation’s activists would block road near Baguihati in Kolkata from the morning tomorrow. “We would stop at nothing to paralise life where we have clout to back us,” he said.
A senior Aamra Bangali leader, Mr Khusi Ranjan Mondal said that they would bring life to a standstill in the entire north Bengal. “It is an imperative to show the ethnic solidarity in the region in the face of the growing audacity on the part of the Gorkhaland protagonists,” he said, adding that they would also embark on indefinite fasting if the Centre and the state government softened their stand on the state division demand.