Concerned over the ongoing agitation in Darjeeling, Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed to the protesters and urged them to help resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue as the Centre was keen on talking to them as well as the state government to help normalise the situation.
The minister also had a detailed phone conversation with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who briefed him on the latest situation in the hill district and about the steps the state government had taken to improve the prevailing law and order situation.
Darjeeling has been witnessing agitation by local people for more than a week now demanding full statehood and protesting against the state government’s decision to introduce Bengali in schools in the region.
The home minister, in a series of tweets, appealed to the agitating protesters that violence would not provide any solution and the issue could only be resolved through a dialogue among all stakeholders. While asking people to remain calm and peaceful, Mr Singh said it was crucial that “all concerned parties should resolve their misunderstandings and differences through amicable dialogue in an amicable environment… I strongly feel every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue”.
Mr Singh also talked about his conversation with Ms Banerjee, saying she had briefed about the situation. The two had discussed the issue on Saturday as well. The agitation is being led by the Gorkha Janmukti Mor-cha (GJM), which also controls the semi-auton-omous Gorkhaland Terri-torial Administration.
The Centre is planning to hold a tripartite meeting with the state government and the GJM next week, though the GJM has already said that it would not participate. Sources in the home ministry said, meanwhile, that if the situation does not improve in the next few days, more Central paramilitary forces will be rushed to Darjeeling.
In Darjeeling, meanwhile, reacting to Ms Banerjee’s proposal to hold talks if the GJM stopped its agitation and bandh, local MLA Amar Rai said on Sunday that it would hold talks with Trinamul Congress. “We can sit with the Central government on the condition that our demand for Gorkhaland will be addressed. However, we do not want any discussions with the TMC,” he said.