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4 May 2018

GNLF union drops gherao plan

Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 04, 2018, Darjeeling: A trade union of the Gorkha National Liberation Front has decided to cancel its programme to gherao Lal Khoti - the administrative headquarters of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration - on Friday, the announcement being made a day after its arch rival, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, had launched a vitriolic attack on the GNLF.

The Himalayan Plantation Workers' Union, the trade wing of the GNLF, had earlier announced the gherao of Lal Khoti primarily to demand that tea garden workers also be paid wages for the 104-day strike period last year.

The union had maintained that since the Binay Tamang and other Morcha leaders were responsible for calling the strike, it was their duty to redress the grievance.

J.B. Tamang, the general secretary of the union on Thursday, said: "We have decided to cancel the Lal Khoti siege. This is largely because we found out that Binay Tamang has to ultimately approach the state government."

"Our party president Mann Ghisingh is in touch with the state ministers over the phone. Our leader has been verbally assured that the state labour minister will meet a delegation of our party after May 7. Under our president's direction, we have decided to cancel the gherao," said Tamang.

The GNLF's announcement comes a day after the Morcha launched a vitriolic attack on the GNLF for allegedly trying to disrupt peace in the hills once again.

Sources in the Morcha also said its workers were planning to gather at Lal Khoti on Friday to thwart the GNLF's gherao.

In the given situation, observers believe that the state government also played a role in ensuring that there was no breach in peace in the hills.

"It seems obvious that the state government has intervened to ensure that no untoward incident takes place in the hills," said an observer.

"Given that the GNLF is making some inroads into the hills, any violent incident would only have backfired on the GNLF," said the observer.

Tamang, however, denied that the decision had been influenced by the Morcha's strong statement on Wednesday. "Our decision has got nothing to do with their (Morcha's) statement," he said .

"We decided to change our plan as we realised that Binay Tamang would have to fall back on the state government as he could do little to resolve the issue," said the union leader.

Tamang was also silent on the stand that since Binay Tamang and Morcha leader had called the 104-day strike, it was their responsibility to solve this issue .

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