Almost 100 days after a near-total closure in the Darjeeling hills demanding a separate state from Gorkhaland, Gorkha’s president Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Bimal Gurung, announced on Tuesday the bandh’s withdrawal.
From 6 am on Wednesday, the strike will be withdrawn, Gurung told reporters in Darjeeling.
The development came hours after the Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh, again appealed to Mr. Gurung to withdraw the current bandh.
Talks to be held
Mr. Singh also said that he had asked Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Gauba, to convene an official meeting in the Ministry of Home within a fortnight to discuss all related matters.
“Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and all the people of the Darjeeling hills have suffered greatly since the strike. They have hurt me greatly because of what has happened in the Darjeeling hills,” said a statement from press issued by the PIB citing the Home Minister.
The GJM has been demanding that a tripartite dialogue be initiated between the Center, the State and the GJM so that the strike can be lifted.
Although there were no direct guarantees of the Center’s tripartite talks, the proposal for an official level meeting was sufficient for the GJM.
Pressure was mounting in the direction to cancel the strike as markets, tea gardens, markets and other commercial facilities slowly opened up into the hills.
The closure of the administrative offices was announced on June 12 and June 15, the GJM called for a total closure when police raided the house of Bimal Gurung.
The 100-day closure has brought the lives and livelihood of the people in the districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong to a grinding stop.
In the past three months, the hills also witnessed several incidents of violence as clashes erupted between supporters of Gorkhaland and the police.
Two rounds of talks with the government of West Bengal and the hill parties on 29 August and 12 September failed to break the deadlock.
Meanwhile during the day the state government restored Internet services in the hills.
The government has been claiming that “normality in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong hill districts has been restored with the active participation of residents of the two districts.”