Kolkata, Oct 16 (IANS) The West Bengal government and some political parties from the troubled northern hills held the third round of talks on Monday to find a way out of the impasse, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying her dispensation was open to “considering good suggestions” to find a permanent solution.
Briefing media persons after the deliberations at state secretariat Nabanna, Banerjee said none of the parties in Darjeeling wanted violence. “All of them want development, employment, peace and normalcy.”
Banerjee said the meeting discussed the need to thrash out a permanent solution to the issue so that youths, students, trade and businesses and tea gardens were not inconvenienced.
“I have said that if the state government receives any good suggestions, we will discuss and if possible we will implement them. We have to find a solution. The Darjeeling hills are a part of our state.”
Darjeeling has flared up from time to time over the past four decades, with parties from the area pressing for creation of a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.
Life had come to a standstill for 104 days in Darjeeling and its neighbouring hills district Kalimpong after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called an indefinite shutdown on June 12 to press for Gorkhaland.
The shutdown was lifted on September 27.
Banerjee said the participating parties agreed to “work together to do everything” for restoration of peace and normalcy in Darjeeling.
The state government would give compensation to the wounded and the families of the dead, who suffered during the recent agitation for Gorkhaland.
“We are examining. We will give them,” Banerjee said, responding to a proposal from the participating parties at the meeting.
Banerjee also declared there would be no break of service for government employees who did not attend offices in the hills during the recent shutdown.
Describing the meeting as “constructive” and “positive”, Banerjee said a unanimous resolution was passed condoling the death of police sub-inspector Amitava Malik during a clash on Friday between the security forces and pro-Bimal Gurung GJM workers.
Banerjee said her government was keen to develop the hills, including Mirik and Kureseong.
She announced the fourth round of talks would be held on November 21 at Pintail village, a tourist resort at Sukna close to the plains of Siliguri in Darjeeling district.
Among those who took part in Monday’s meeting were Board of Administrator for Darjeeling Chairman Binoy Tamang, his deputy Anit Thapa and the three GJM MLAs of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.
Tamang and Thapa were axed from the GJM recently but continue to hold considerable influence over a substantial section of the party’s rank and file.
Others present included Gorkha National Liberation Front leader Maan Ghising, All India Gorkha League leader Bharti Tamang and Trinamool Congress leaders from the hills. Jan Andolan Party leader Harka Bahadur did not attend the deliberations.
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