Darjeeling: The GJM Monday announced a four-day relaxation in its ongoing indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills from Independence Day (Aug 15) even as the West Bengal government continued its crackdown and arrested some of its prominent leaders.
A vice president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and a leader of its women's wing were among those arrested as the indefinite stir continued for the 10th day.
Meanwhile, a GJM-convened all-party meeting in Darjeeling attended by eight parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), decided to come under one platform in support of Gorkhaland and said the hill development body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration needed to be repealed "at an appropriate time".
The GJM, which had announced a day's relaxation on Independence Day, extended the relief till Aug 18 but asserted it would go ahead with the scheduled programme of clamping a two-day "public curfew" in the region from Tuesday.
"The relaxation has been announced after a resolution adapted by the all party meeting. GJM is not alone... we have eight other major parties fighting for Gorkhaland. This is our last fight and we must fight till the end," said GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
"The next two days, we will have to prove our mandate for Gorkhaland to the nation," he said.
The participating parties also condemned the "recent police atrocities" and extended support for the public curfew.
The all-party meeting though was boycotted by the ruling Trinamool Congress, opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
Beside GJM vice president and elected GTA member Kalyan Dewan and Geeta Chettri, leader of the Nari Morcha, two other party leaders, Samir Tirua and Sachin Tamang have now joined the list of prominent faces now behind bars since the agitation started.
Around 220 GJM leaders and workers have been arrested from the three hill sub-divisions -- Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong -- of Darjeeling district in the ongoing crackdown by police and paramilitary forces.
Armed with a Calcutta High Court order asking the state government to prevent forcible shutdowns, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday had given a 72-hour deadline to the GJM to withdraw the shutdown or face "strong action".
Noting that the 72-hour ultimatum set by Banerjee was not a West Bengal government deadline, rather a court order, the GJM Sunday said it will continue its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills Monday, but without violating the court's directive.
Meanwhile the opposition Left Front Monday slammed Banerjee for her ultimatum and asked the state government to convene an all party meeting to explore possibilities to solve the issue.
"The ultimatum and the kind of provocative words that the chief minister is using will only add fuel to the fire. It will worsen the situation further," leader of opposition Surjya Kanta Mishra said.
Though Banerjee said she was open for a dialogue, the Gorkha outfit has ruled out any talks saying the issue concerned only the centre and it will talk only with the central leadership.
With a view to provide relief to people from the ongoing shutdown, the state government has announced to distribute ration, medicine and other essentials in the region from Tuesday.
Trouble started afresh in the hills after the GJM stepped up its movement for Gorkhaland following the United Progressive Alliance's green light to a separate Telangana. There have also been two self immolation bids by Morcha activists with one of them succumbing.
The Gorkhaland movement for a separate state -- to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district -- has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region's economy based on tea, timber and tourism.