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7 Jul 2018

‘Intel wings point to volatile Hill situation’..... Darj MP says state govt reluctant to hold tripartite talks; he says state must begin talks with ‘main leader’ of Hills.

SS AhluwaliaSNS | Siliguri | July 7, 2018, Intelligence wings of Central government organisations have reported that the present situation of the Hills comprising Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, and the adjoining Dooars region is such that the areas may witness a “flare-up any day” again.

According to sources at the Centre, intelligence officials have been repeatedly reporting to the Centre and have been citing the recent political developments in the Hills, discussions and posts on social media/networking sites, and “significant development” on the Bodoland demand at the central level.

“Intelligence officials of both the state and the Centre apprehend another political crisis in the Hills, especially after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leadership gave up all the statuses given by the state government,” a top source at the Centre said.

A political observer, in the know of things at the Centre, however, also pointed out that peace and tranquility is a must not only in the Hills, but also the plains, especially in the Dooars.

“It was also pointed out to us that foreign forces may exploit the present situation of the region, including Darjeeling, which is surrounded by four international borders, if such a situation continues due to the statehood demand there,” the sources said.

According to the source, both the Centre and the state government are under pressure on this issue, “but nothing has been initiated due to political coercion–the Trinamul Congress and the BJP are locked in a power tussle in the region.”

It may be noted here that the founder leader of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha, Bimal Gurung, today sent out an audio clip today and urged all Hill parties to unite for statehood.

According to a senior political leader of the Hills, the Morcha got an opportunity to attack the state government following the latter’s decision to “impose” the Bengali language in all schools, including in the Darjeeling hills, and violence erupted last year, when the chief minister was in Darjeeling. The issue took a nasty turn, while the Hills went for a 104-day shutdown after that.

A section of the Hill people has been criticising both Morcha leader Binoy Tamang for “joining hands with the state government and leaving behind the demand for Gorkhaland,” and Bimal Gurung for agreeing to call off the shutdown from his hideout by promising the central government’s interference in the form of tripartite talks in the matter.

“However, more than 70 percent people in the Hills are now sympathetic to what they see is their ‘real hero’– Bimal Gurung–after his name was struck off from the electoral rolls recently,” a political leader said.

Asked to comment on the issue, Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia, who is also a union minister, said: “Yes, I was instrumental in calling off the strike that time, and the Centre had agreed to begin the dialogue process. But the tripartite talks have not yet started owing to non-cooperation from the state government. The state has been reluctant to respond to the Centre’s calls for dialogue.”

“The use of bullets and jails will never bring back peace and tranquility in the Hills and the Dooars. Actual peace and normality in the Hills is seriously imperative at the present situation in the interest of the entire nation. An amicable settlement of the Hill issue through dialogue is imperative,” said Mr Ahluwalia, adding, “Talks may be tripartite or bipartite, but the state should begin dialogue with the main leader of the Hills.”

“In a federal structure, the Centre cannot interfere (in such matters) directly. The Centre will take initiatives by involving the state, but the latter is not responding to calls that are being made in the interest of the nation,” he said.

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