Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, other hill parties meet today to strategise over their demand for Gorkhaland
Darjeeling, West Bengal: As the unrest in Darjeeling over the demand for a separate state, Gorkhaland, led to a total shutdown for nearly ten days, the GorkhaJanmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the protests, has called for a meeting with all political parties from hills to decide on the "next course of action". West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday called for calm before leaving for the Netherlands to attend the United Nations summit. In widespread clashes between protesters and the police, a man was killed and at least 35 security personnel were injured.
- "We will discuss with all the hill parties and chalk out our next course of action," a GJM leader said. Jan Andolan Party (JAP), Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), All-Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM), Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP) and the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) have extended their support to the cause of Gorkhaland.
- Security forces patrolled the streets in Darjeeling and internet services remained suspended for the third day today as GJM supporters marched in several areas and burnt effigies of Mamata Banerjee for rejecting their demand for a separate state.
- The internet was snapped in Darjeeling and nearby areas in order to stop GJM activists from using social media to spread "provocative posts", police sources had said.
- "Violence cannot be a solution to any problem and only talks can solve it," Ms Banerjee had said earlier. "I am ready to sacrifice my life, but I will not allow Bengal to be divided," she said. She also appealed to all parties and stakeholders to attend an all-party meeting called by the state government in Siliguri on June 22 to discuss the situation in Darjeeling.
- Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also appealed to protesters not to resort to violence and instead, hold dialogue to resolve any issue.
- The GJM has ruled out any discussion with the West Bengal government and also called the role of centre "unfortunate". "The role of the alliance partner BJP is very unfortunate and very disappointing. We had expected something positive on the part of the central government," Darjeeling lawmaker and GJM leader Amar Singh Rai said.
- The GJM protesters yesterday blocked National Highway-31A at some places on Saturday to protest the death of three of their activists, a claim the police haven't confirmed. The 92-kilometre-long NH-31A connects Sevoke in Darjeeling to Gangtok and is considered the lifeline of Sikkim, a famous tourist spot in northeast.
- The violence flared after the home-cum-office of GJM leader Bimal Gurung was raided on June 16. Morcha supporters gathered nearby, started shouting slogans and pelted stones at the police. The police said the protesters also threw petrol bombs after which they responded with teargas and lathicharge. A media vehicle was torched.
- Additional police forces were rushed in to bring situation under control. A police outpost at Pedong was set on fire. Arson was attempted at a sericulture office and the tourist lodge.
- The protests had started last week after Ms Banerjee said Bengali language would be compulsory in all schools from Class 1 to 10. Ms Banerjee later rolled back her stand and said Darjeeling would be exempt but Morcha wanted it in writing as a cabinet resolution that did not come.
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