Gorkhaland state movement splits: one faction lifts stir for 12 days

Upstart leader Binay Tamang agrees to temporary suspension of strike as GJM boss Bimal Gurung’s influence wanes due to absence from the public eye.

Published: 31st August 2017 08:19 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2017 08:11 AM   |  A+A-

Gorkhaland supporters take part in a mass rally at Mirik in Darjeeling. (File | PTI)

Gorkhaland supporters take part in a mass rally at Mirik in Darjeeling. (File | PTI)

Express News Service

KOLKATA: Cracks in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) came out in the open Thursday when one important party functionary said the 80-day-long indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills would be suspended temporarily to facilitate talks with the state administration and another said it would continue.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) coordinator Binay Tamang declared that the indefinite strike would be withdrawn temporarily from Friday morning till September 12, the date when the second round of talks with the West Bengal administration are slated to take place in Siliguri.

But GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the bandh would continue till a dialogue is initiated on separate statehood for the Daarjeeling hills, called Gorkhaland. Those opposed to the suspension are mainly the old guard of the GJM, including chairman Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri.

The cleavage in the movement is a pointer to the waning of the influence of Bimal Gurung within the agitation, a result of his long absence in the public due to his decision to remain underground for much of the past 80 days. Gurung was opposed to opening talks with the state government but Binay Tamang went ahead anyway.

Speaking to the media after a GJM central committee meeting at Kurseong on Thursday, Tamang, who held talks this week with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, said starting 6 m Friday, vehicles will be allowed on the roads, and shops, cinchona plantations, tea gardens and schools will open.

A decision on whether to recommence the strike or withdraw it completely will be taken on September 13 depending on the outcome of the talks with the state government  September 12. The GJM central committee, he said, was in favour of suspending the indefinite strike.

Tamang said talks were necessary to break the deadlock. “Even the Doklam issue got resolved with talks. We want to resolve the Gorkhaland issue through talks with the central and state governments. Mamata Banerjee has acknowledged our demand as being constitutional but wanted us to express our demand in a peaceful and non-violent manner,” Tamang said.

The GJM coordinator said the decision was taken after taking into confidence all groups party to the agitation. Several pro-Gorkhaland parties, including the GJM, came together as the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) to launch the agitation.

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