DARJEELING: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung today requested West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to initiate a "political dialogue" to end the over two months old impasse in the hills but stuck to his demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
His request came two days after the state government's announcement of holding talks with the agitating parties on August 29.
Banerjee had said on Tuesday that the state government has accepted the proposal of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), a constituent of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC), for a dialogue and fixed August 29 for the discussion here.
Gurung expressed his willingness to hold talks in a letter, a copy of which was made available to the media today.
"No other alternative or modified bodies will do justice to our plight ... other than creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland", it said.
"Under the situation, we request your honour to initiate a political dialogue on the long pending demand of the Gorkhas which is Gorkhaland to help resolve the present crisis in Darjeeling," the letter said.
Gurung said that the two "failed councils in Darjeeling hills like Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) should pave ways for us to learn from previous mistakes that experimental models to temporarily curb the people's aspiration for separation from West Bengal has not worked in the past nor in the present."
Gurung further said that the tripartite MoU had stated that GTA was only to be an interim arrangement and that "We have not dropped our demand for Gorkhaland".
The GJM chief also demanded judicial probe into the deaths due to police action during the ongoing agitation and compensation for the families of the victims besdies restoration of food and essential commodities supplies.
He also demanded withdrawal of all cases -- both old and new -- against the agitators and release of those detained during the agitation, restoration of internet, cable TV and local TV channels in the hills.
He said that despite the shortage of food, vegetables and essential commodities in the hills "Our people are willing to continue the bandh till Gorkhaland demand is fulfilled."
Describing the request of the GNLF to hold dialogue as a "good and constructive gesture", Banerjee had on Tuesday said "Major political parties and the development boards which have been involved in development works in the hills will be invited to be part of the meeting."
The state government, she said, is for development and is always open to holding talks to restore peace in the hills.
"A stalemate is continuing in the hills. Any other major political party apart from GNLF, which is in favour of peace and is willing to participate in talks is welcome. My overnment is always ready for talks," she had said.