New Delhi, Aug 13 (IANS) A small delegation of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and other regional parties on Sunday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to pressed for a separate Gorkhaland state.
The six-member delegation, led by GJM leader Swaraj Thapa, held a two-hour meeting with Rajnath Singh at which Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and Union Minister and Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia were also present.
Addressing media after the meeting, Thapa said that the Home Minister listened to the delegation's demands carefully and asked them to call off the agitation.
However, Thapa said that no compromise would be made on the Gorkhaland demand.
"We told the Home Minister that that there cannot be any other solution besides a separate state for the entire region. We urged him to initiate the process of creating a separate state...Our demand is very much within Constitution," he said.
He said that a decision with regard to calling off the agitation would be taken "in a few days after consulting our leadership and other parties".
He said that Rajnath Singh had invited the Gorkhaland leaders to discuss the issue.
"The Home Minister was kind enough to invite us for talks on the issue of Darjeeling that has been suffering for more than two months. He was kind enough to listen to all the various parties present in the meeting.
"He said he was very mindful of the sufferings faced by Gorkha and non-Gorkha people of the entire region. He said he knew that demand of a separate state has been there for very long time and people have been agitating. He also added that he was mindful of constitutional provisions that guided such demands," Thapa said.
The demand for a separate Gorkhaland resurfaced before the 2016 Assembly elections when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced several "development boards" for different communities in Darjeeling district, such as the Lepchas and Tamangs.
The GJM has maintained that setting up separate boards outside of the functioning of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is a part of Banerjee's "divisive politics".
The demand picked up steam right after the Assembly election. While the GJM continued to retain all seats in the district, its vote share had fallen alarmingly by nearly 40 per cent and Banerjee's Trinamool had managed to make inroads in the region.
Singhmari and Patlebas areas in Darjeeling have witnessed several incidents of violence involving the GJM activists and police in the last couple of months.
Besides the GJM, various other hill parties and intellectuals marched on the streets of Darjeeling with black flags and placards demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.