Gorkhaland agitation: Gurung says he is ready for dialogue with Mamata Banerjee

Bimal Gurung

Bimal Gurung

Former Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung on Wednesday said their demand for Gorkhaland is within the framework of the Indian Constitution.

In his first direct interaction with reporters following a long and violent agitation in Darjeeling previous year, Gurung also rejected Banerjee's accusation that he was a separatist, saying his party's demands were within the purview of the Constitution and he believed in national integrity.

The GJM alleged that Mr Gurung had been booked in more than 350 cases and had even petitioned the Supreme Court, which directed the police not to take any coercive measures against him.

"I am ready to face a probe by an independent agency", he said, terming the state police's action as motivated. Though his party has been demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of West Bengal, he did not touch upon the issue on Thursday.

"Our agitation is for Gorkha identity", he said.

The leader, with 381 criminal cases filed against him during June-September agitation for statehood, said in an interview in New Delhi that his demand was within the "ambit of Indian Constitution" and the Gorkhas will remain part of this country till their last breath.

While accusing the state government of acting in a "one-sided manner", he appealed to his supporters to maintain peace and not to resort to any illegal activity.

The state government managed to quell the movement and installed Binay Tamang, once a close aide of Gurung, as chief of the board of administrators for the Hills. In his absence, a group of other Gorkha leaders led by Vinay Tamang had claimed to be the real representatives of people.