West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held talks with political parties of Darjeeling hills and requested them to withdraw the indefinite bandh, which entered the 76th day.
“Talks were cordial and positive. Dialogue has started and it will continue. The next meeting will be held at Uttarkanya secretariat in north Bengal on September 12,” she said after the meeting at the state secretariat here.
“They (the hill parties) raised the Gorkhaland issue but we did not agree. They can raise their voice. It is a democratic set-up,” Banerjee added.
The Bengal CM was accompanied by the state’s chief secretary, the home secretary, police chief and a couple of senior ministers at the meeting. Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee was represented by leaders of the GNLF, GJM and other parties leading the agitation in the hills.
All the parties agreed that peace and normalcy should be restored in the hills and “we requested them to withdraw the bandh”, she said.
Benoy Tamang of GJM raised the issue of Gorkhaland and other demands at the meeting also underlined the need for peace.
“Peace and normalcy are essential. We are going to Darjeeling epicenter of the bandh where we will hold a meeting within our party and Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee where the decision on the withdrawal of the strike will be taken,” he said.
Banerjee had taken the initiative to call a meeting between the government and hill parties after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) wrote to her requesting for opening a dialogue in order to resolve the crisis caused by an indefinite shutdown in support of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Next round of discussion will take place on September 12 at Uttar Kanya in north Bengal.