The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) reiterated their demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in a meeting which was chaired by Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy. The delegation also stressed that the separate state should comprise of Darjeeling and its adjoining areas.
"The delegation raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and grant of Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Gorkha sub-communities," an official who attended the meeting states.
A delegation of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal faction) was led by party's working president Dr Lopsang Yolmo Lama. Apart from Dr Lama, the team representing GJM were Dr Kalyan Dewan, Urmila Rumba, Bishal Chettri, Bishal Lama, Binu Sundas along with their legal advisor Anand Bhandari.
No official from the West Bengal government attended the meeting today despite being invited.
GK Reddy assured the delegation and said that the government would consider all the material presented before it and would announce the next meeting after speaking with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Interestingly, three days ago the Union Home Secretary issued a notice saying that a tripartite talk would be held on October 7 to discuss issues relating to Gorkhaland.
However tension increased when the MHA issued another letter stating: "The subject of the meeting in the heading and body of the notice may be read as issues related to Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
"We have not discussed anything about GTA. We have submitted a memorandum on how and why GTA has failed. The GTA is not working. Our only demand is Gorkhaland state and we have raised that," Dr Lama told reporters after the meeting.
He also said that the BJP had promised in its manifesto that it would find a political solution to the Gorkhaland issue.
GJM leader Kalyan Dewan said that Union Minister GK Reddy gave them a patient hearing and assured that the dialogue on their demands would continue.
Later, in a statement, Dr Lama said the seven member delegation raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and grant of ST status to 11 Gorkha sub-communities.
"When the issue of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was raised, the GJM delegation sumbitted that the delegation was there to discuss the statehood demand and grant of Scheduled Tribe status and not the GTA since the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Union of India, government of West Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2011was not honoured by the State of West Bengal," the statement said.
The delegation's memorandum mentioned about the alleged "irregularities, interferences and obstacles committed by the state government thereby rendering the GTA defunct".
The GJM said, moreover, all the elected members of the GTA had resigned together in 2017 rejecting the body.
The delegation further said Gorkhaland is the oldest statehood demand in India and presented various materials supporting it, the statement said.
"The hon'ble minister after giving a patient audience assured the delegation that the government would consider all the materials presented before it and would announce the next meeting after speaking with the Hon'ble Union Home Minister Amit Shah and briefing him about the contents of today's meeting," it said.