Darjeeling: With the 72-hour deadline set by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling to demand Gorkhaland, expiring, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Monday said the shutdown would not be enforced forcibly and announced a four-day relaxation from August 15. However, it said a 'janata curfew' would be observed from Tuesday.
"There will be no use of force to enforce the bandh in deference to the Calcutta High Court order," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters in Darjeeling. Giri later said at Singmari that the bandh, which entered the tenth day, would also be relaxed for another three days till August 18 besides Independence day.
"We have to see the people's suffering also," he said. Senior GJM leader Harkabahadur Chetri had earlier announced that the bandh would be relaxed only on Independence day and that the 'janata curfew' (people on the streets) would be held for two days from Tuesday as announced earlier by party chief Bimal Gurung.
Giri said that on August 18, GJM would decide on the next course of action. The High Court had directed the West Bengal government to ensure normalcy and Mmata Banerjee had on Saturday declared the bandh illegal and given GJM a 72-hour deadline to withdraw it.
Responding to Banerjee's deadline, the GJM chief had threatened to call a 'janata curfew' if she did not withdraw the timeline. Meanwhile, the GJM chief in a Facebook post said "A resolution was taken in an all-party meeting today that there should be a 3-day relaxation from 16th-18th August. GJM discussed it in the core committee meeting and supports the decision.
"The relaxation has been announced after a resolution adopted by the all-party meeting. We must realise that from now Gorkha Janamukti Morcha is not alone in this Gorkhaland agitation and we have 8 other major parties fighting for it too," Gurung said.
"On 16th, we will announce our future agitation programme for Gorkhaland. This is our last fight and we must fight till the end. In the next two days, we will have to prove our mandate for Gorkhaland to the nation," Gurung added.
The GJM chief and Chetri condemned the 'police atrocities' in the hills with the arrest figure reaching 184. "The meeting unanimously condemned the atrocities in the name of maintaining law and order and the arrests made by the police as state-sponsored terrorism," Chetri said reading out a resolution adopted at the meeting.
The meeting was attended by the BJP, All India Gorkha League and small parties in the hills but ruling Trinamool Congress, Congress, CPI(M) and GNLF stayed away. Meanwhile, there was a report of two Congressmen attending the all-party meeting.
WBPCC president Pradip Bhattacharjee told PTI from Delhi "I don't know who attended it in the name of Congress." Later a WBPCC press release in Kolkata said two persons claiming themselves to belong to the Congress attended the meeting.
"State Congress does not approve this participation. In any case Congress is against the partition of West Bengal," the release said. Superintendent of Police Kunal Agarwal said another five companies of CRPF would be arriving in Darjeeling from Assam to bolster the five companies already there.