The indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling hills, which entered its sixth day on Tuesday, will continue until security forces are withdrawn, a GJM-sponsored all-party meeting decided yesterday. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland since June eight, also decided to withdraw from the tripartite accord on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Security forces patrolled the streets of the bandh-hit hills as the indefinite strike crippled normal life. Internet services remained suspended for the third day in the region. Except medicine shops, all other shops remained closed.
GJM spokesperson T Arjun told reporters in Darjeeling after the all-party meeting, "The indefinite shutdown will continue as the onus is on the West Bengal government to restore normalcy in the hills. They have to withdraw security forces -- both the state, central and all repressive forces."
Several political parties in the hills, including Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which was till recently an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress, attended the meeting here, besides some NGOs and apolitical organisations.
GJM withdraws from tripartite accord on GTA
Arjun said, "It was also decided at the meeting that the GJM will withdraw from the tripartite accord on the GTA."
The tripartite agreement paving the way for the setting up of the GTA, an elected body for the Darjeeling hills, was signed in 2011. The parties to the agreement were the Union home ministry, the state government and the GJM.
The GTA administers Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district.
The GJM spokesperson said, "We will send letter to the state and the central governments stating that the GTA stands scrapped as the GJM, being one of the signatories, is pulling out of the the agreement."
Asked whether the GJM members will resign from the GTA, he said "We are pulling out of the accord."
The parties, which attended the meeting, decided not to participate in the June 22 all-party meet called by the West Bengal government to discuss the prevailing situation in the hills.
An all-party coordination committee will be formed which would soon send a delegation to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to press for the demand for Gorkhaland, Arjun said.
Meanwhile, a GJM delegation yesterday met Union minister Kiren Rijiju in Sikkim capoital Gangtok and submitted a two-point memorandum demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Sikkim extends support to Gorkhaland demand
The Sikkim Democratic Front, the ruling party in this north-eastern state, extended its support to the "democratic demand" for a separate Gorkhaland.
It expressed its opposition to the "illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional" acts committed in Darjeeling.
Thousands of people from all walks of life took out candle light march in Gangtok in solidarity with the people of Darjeeling.
A meeting of the SDF leadership in Gangtok, without naming anyone, hoped that peace would return to the Darjeeling hills soon and demands of the Gorkha people would be fulfilled.
The Sikkim Assembly had on March 29, 2011, passed a resolution in favour of a separate Gorkhaland.
The SDF appealed to the Centre, the West Bengal government, the people of Darjeeling and the political parties in the hills to ensure that National Highway 10 (Siliguri-to- Gangtok), about a 70-km stretch of which passes through the Darjeeling and Kalimpong sub-divisions, was left open as it was the "lifeline" of land-locked Sikkim.
GJM delegation meets Rijiju, submits two-point memorandum
A member of the delegation that met Rijiju in Gangtok, RB Bhujel, told PTI that the delegation met Rijiju with a two-point agenda.
The first was the demand of the people of Darjeeling for a separate state of Gorkhaland and the second was that the Union minister immediately start the process at the central level for fulfilling the demand, once he is back in New Delhi.
He said that the delegation had told the Union minister that the protests in Darjeeling Hills would continue and the situation would not be normal if these demands were not met by the Centre immediately.
He also said the delegation apprised Rijiju about the current situation in Darjeeling Hills and stressed that the Centre urgently start the process of granting a separate state status to Gorkhaland.