Shops closed during the indefinite strike in Darjeeling on Wednesday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, July 22: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today admitted that the stand taken by the Central and state governments on the tripartite talks was encouraging but said the party would not withdraw its strike unless their demands like the transfer of senior police officers were met.
Following, yesterday’s clarification from Bengal home secretary Ardhendu Sen that the tripartite talks would feature the Gorkhaland issue, it was largely perceived that the indefinite strike would be lifted as the Morcha had sounded upbeat about the developments. Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the party, said here this afternoon: “The right atmosphere was being created after the government pre-poned the talks and agreed to discuss the Gorkhaland issue at the tripartite meeting on August 11. As they want official level talks before a political dialogue, we believe that justice has been denied to us.”
“While the GNLF leader, Rajen Mukhia, was released today, 19 of our supporters are still in jail. The government has not done anything to transfer K.L. Tamta, inspector-general, north Bengal, along with additional police superintendent of Darjeeling and the SDPO of Kurseong,” said Giri.
GNLF and Morcha supporters had clashed at Panighatta near Siliguri on July 10 and the incident had sparked off the ongoing indefinite strike. Apart from the demand for tripartite talks, the Morcha had also asked for the transfer of these officers.
The Morcha also highlighted an earlier case and reminded the state government that no action was taken against “erring policeman” involved in a lathi-charge against ex-servicmen who had brought out a rally in Siliguri on April 10, 2008.
The state government had started a one-man inquiry commission to probe into the April 10 incident but even after a year, the findings have not yet been made public.
With state urban minister Asok Bhattacharya demanding that the tripartite meeting should be scrapped if the strike is not withdrawn, observers believe that the Morcha’s decision to go ahead with the strike is also seen as a move to pass on the message that it will not bow to the CPM’s demand. For, Giri was clear that Morcha was not averse to dialogue. “We firmly believe that all issues can be solved only through a dialogue,” said Giri.
Another school of thought also believes that the Morcha has decided to carry on with strike as senior BJP leaders are constantly raising the Gorkhaland demand in Parliament. “We thank Sushma Swaraj (deputy leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha) for raising the issue today. Our MP Jaswant Singh will also be raising the issue once again on July 24,” said Giri.
The Morcha has also decided to bring out a rally in town tomorrow. “We will also celebrate the martyr’s day on July 27 in all the hill subdivision,” said Jyoti Rai, a central committee member of the Morcha.
The trade union of the Morcha has also decided to hold rallies in every tea garden from tomorrow to press for land rights (patta) to the tea garden workers.