Kolkata: No agreement was reached on Monday on carving out a state for Nepali-speaking Gorkhas in northern West Bengal in talks between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Union and state government officials.
Union home secretary G.K. Pillai, who attended the meeting, said the constitutional and legal implications of the GJM’s demands would be considered and discussions would be held again within 45 days.
The activist organization demanding a separate state claimed “moral victory” in its negotiations. The GJM also announced suspending its agitation in the hilly region until 25 December.
United front: Representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha arrive for the tripartite talks in Darjeeling on Monday. Ashok Bhaumik / PTI
However, general secretary Roshan Giri said: “From the very next day, all government offices in Darjeeling would be closed and our indefinite hunger strike would also resume.”
Gorkhas have been struggling for a separate state comprising Darjeeling and surrounding areas for decades. Their movement gained fresh momentum this month, after the Union government announced that Andhra Pradesh would be carved up to create Telangana.
Several GJM workers started a fast to death, forcing the Union and state governments to come to the negotiating table on Monday.
“The 16-member GJM team, which attended the meeting, rejected proposals for giving the Gorkhas greater autonomy and administrative control of the hills,” Giri said, implying they would settle for nothing less than full statehood.
State government officials, including chief secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti and home secretary Ardhendu Sen, didn’t have much to say.
The Left Front government has opposed the bifurcation of West Bengal, saying it was only willing to offer the Gorkhas more autonomy in administration.