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Darjeeling awaits 2nd all party meet

Darjeeling, Aug 15 (RDI IBNS): The second all party meeting, scheduled to begin on Friday here have huge significance in view of the Calcutta High Court's observation that public curfew is illegal and against the right of the people.

As the hills of Darjeeling limped back to normalcy on the Independence Day after a fortnight of shut down and ´Janata Curfew,´ the political observers here put much importance to the scheduled all party meeting called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

The GJM, which is spearheading the Gorkha statehood movement by sponsoring indefinite Darjeeling shut down since July 29, called the all party meeting for the second time this week after the first one went inconclusive.

But the mainstream political parties in state like ruling Trinamool Congress, main opposition the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Congress are not taking
part in the meeting.

Though the day was a National holiday for being the Independence Day, life in the three hill subdivisions - Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong began, rather briskly, like going out for marketing early for buying the essentials.

Transporters were the first to get to work after checking up their vehicles to ferry people down to Siliguri for marketing, especially groceries like rice, atta, salt,
and cooking oil.

People in Darjeeling hills depended on the import of those goods from the plains.

"The mad rush of the people to go for marketing the essentials is because they are not sure what will happen after Aug 18 when the four days relaxation will end," an local resident said.

The GJM had called the indefinite Darjeeling strike on July 29, immediately after the Congress party heading the UPA II government at the Centre conceded the creating of Telangana.

The GJM is demanding for separate Gorkhaland state by dividing West Bengal in the eastern Himalaya.

However, after two days relaxation on Aug 1 and 2, the indefinite strike continued till Aug 12, followed by two days ´Janata Curfew.´

The GJM again called a party meeting on Aug 16 to chalk out the future action of the current movement.

Meanwhile on Aug 14, the Calcutta High Court said the public curfew/bandh was illegal and show caused the GJM to file an affidavit by Sept 5 stating that why it should not be held liable to compensate damages of private and public property.

Meanwhile, the GJM sought an intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the statehood issue.

General secretary Roshan Giri said, "The Union government and the prime minister should intervene. It is not a law and order problem. It is a political problem. The people in the hills want Gorkhaland. If the people can get Telangana, why can´t we get Gorkhaland? "

Meanwhile, crack down on the GJM activists continued with latest arrest of GTA member Nima Tamang from Naxalbari area in Darjeeling district.

Nima Tamang, besides a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member, is also a youth leader of the party.

Police said so far 360 people have been rounded up for various old and new charges since the crackdown began on Aug 3.

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