GJM leaders seek to meet Rajnath on Sunday over Gorkhaland issue

The situation in Darjeeling remained tense but incident-free

The situation in Darjeeling remained tense but incident-free

Home Minister Rajnath Singh invited Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) for talks to resolve the Darjeeling unrest, which entered its 60th day on Sunday. Calling Gorkhaland protests a people's movement, GJM President Bimal Gurung said, "I thank the honourable Home Minister for the kind invite, and hope that the Central government will do justice for the Gorkha's at the earliest". The GMCC, led by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), said it had urged the home minister to start the process for creating a separate state. "We all are aware of the strategic importance of the locality and the challenges that we face in the region", he said. "We urged him to start the process for (creation of) a separate state. Our demand is very much within Constitution", he said. Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia was present at the meeting. "As we are yet to get the fixed time to meet the Home Minister, but we will meet him any time in the day", he said. Swaraj Thapa, a leader of the GJM, said the home minister had told them that he was mindful of the sufferings of the people in Darjeeling. "The state is suppressing our democratic movement", Thapa said.

The demand for a separate Gorkhaland resurfaced before the 2016 Assembly elections when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced several "development boards" for different communities in Darjeeling district, such as the Lepchas and Tamangs. While the GJM continued to retain all seats in the district, its vote share had fallen alarmingly by almost 40 per cent and Banerjee's Trinamool had managed to make inroads in the region.

Singhmari and Patlebas areas in Darjeeling have witnessed several incidents of violence involving the GJM activists and police in the last couple of months.

Besides the GJM, various other hill parties and intellectuals marched the streets of Darjeeling with black flags and placards demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.