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Since 1st March, 1999
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CM agrees to Delhi talks on Darjeeling

Calcutta/Darjeeling, July 9: The state government is going to urge the Union home ministry “in a day or two” to call a tripartite meeting in Delhi on Darjeeling.

The decision follows the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s refusal to engage in bipartite talks with the state.

Home secretary Asok Mo-han Chakrabarti said at Wri-ters’ Buildings this evening: “We will very soon write to the Union home ministry to hold a tripartite meeting to discuss the Darjeeling issue. It will happen in a day or two. There is no reason to believe that bipartite talks cannot be held after a tripartite discussion.

“Now, it would be for the Centre to decide on the date and venue.”

He added that it was “too premature” to say now whether the chief minister would attend the tripartite meeting.

After an all-party meeting on Darjeeling on June 17, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had sent a letter calling the Morcha for bipartite talks.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung did not come but his representatives did.

On June June 27, they told the chief minister that the outfit demanding a separate Gorkhaland carved out the Darjeeling hills, Siliguri, Dooars and Terai was no longer interested in bipartite talks and that the state should persuade the Centre to hold a three-way meeting.

The chief minister then requested Gurung to hold a few rounds of bipartite talks and arrive at a “political solution’’ before going to Delhi.

In response, the Morcha iterated its demand.

Asked to react to today’s decision, Gurung said: “It is good that the government has accepted our demand. I will attend the meeting’’.

He did not reveal whether the Morcha would continue with its bandh in government offices. “We will look into it,” he said.

Morcha insiders said the shutdown was likely to be reviewed.

Bhattacharjee had earlier ruled out any talks on Gorkhaland, though he promised more powers to the hill council.

Hill affairs minister and Siliguri MLA Asok Bhattacharya met the chief minister and later the home secretary to discuss the situation in Darjeeling and the “dangerous’’ move of the Morcha to replace WB (West Bengal) number plates with GL (Gorkhaland).

“I met the chief minister today to discuss the overall situation in Darjeeling and the number plates issue. It is dangerous and the government will have to do something,” the minister said.

He also warned of violence if “vehicles with GL number plates try to enter Siliguri”.

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