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21 Jun 2017

Bengal govt sees signs of weakness in Morcha

PRANESH SARKAR, TT, Calcutta, June 20: The Bengal government will not withdraw central paramilitary forces right now and will continue to offer meetings to establish peace in the hills. 
The decision was taken following an assessment that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership is under pressure and it has started compromising with the demands being raised by other parties in the hills, which was reflected in the decisions taken at an all-party meeting called by the Morcha today. 
"The paramilitary forces were deployed for a purpose and the purpose still exists, so it is not possible to withdraw the forces. But at the same time, the state government will continue its efforts to establish peace in the hills," said a Bengal government official. 
A section of the officials explained that the strategy of the government is to tighten the pressure on the Morcha so that it will be compelled to respond to the call for a dialogue.
"It is clear from the decisions taken during the all-party meeting in the hills that the Morcha leadership has started compromising with the demands of other hill parties. This is a clear hint that the Morcha leadership is weakening," the official added.
Earlier, Harka Bahadur Chhetri's Jana Andolan Party (JAP) had sent a list of suggestions as a condition to taking forward the movement over the demand for Gorkhaland.
The suggestions included the Morcha members' resignation from the GTA, asking all elected representatives to resign from their posts and seeking a resolution on Gorkhaland from the BJP's national executive committee.
Although other hill parties like the GNLF had also demanded the resignations of all Morcha members from the GTA, the strongest voice was heard from Chhetri.
"Chhetri has no stake in GTA as his party does not have any member there.... By accepting the demand of Chhetri's party and the GNLF, Morcha made it clear that it has started compromising with the demands of other parties. It is a clear sign that the Morcha is under pressure," said another official.
The state government feels that if it continues building pressure on the Morcha, the party leadership would be forced to compromise with other demands like restoring normality in the hills.
"Stocks of essential commodities like cooking gas, food grains and vegetables are drying up fast in the hills.... The hill parties, including the Morcha, might not attend the meeting called by the government on June 22 but the state would continue calling such meetings. The Morcha will have to explain the reasons for not attending the meetings to the hill people if the strike continues and common people continue to suffer," said a source.

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