Kolkata, June 18: In order to quell the ongoing unrest in Darjeeling, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee reportedly formulated a two-fold strategy. The state government aims to create rift among protesters, along with cutting off the ration supply to the Hills, in order to bring the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha to the back foot.
At the high-level meeting chaired at the state secretariat, Nabba, the two-pronged strategy was approved by the chief minister, reported Hindustan Times. In order to create rift among the agitators, the state government would rope in the representatives of 15 development boards in the Hills.
Primary representatives of the development boards, representing the various Gorkha tribes in the Hills, would be tasked to take the message of state government to the people. The office-bearers would attempt to persuade protesters in their region to backtrack from the agitation, the report claimed.
According to reports, the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board has already been roped in by the state government to bring normalcy in the Hills. The Board’s chief representative Tamsang Lepcha said a committee comprising of members of the various tribe-development boards would be formed to initiate the peace process. The panel’s primary task would be to persuade the Gorkhaland protesters to sit for talks with the chief minister, rather than resorting to protests.
The separate development boards in the Hills have been created for Mangars, Khambu Rais, Kamis, Sarkis, Damais, Newars, Bhujels, Bhutias, Limbus, Gurungs, Tamangs and Sherpas. GJM supremo Bimal Gurung has constantly opposed the creation of separate board, calling it a conspiracy of Mamata Banerjee government to divide the Gorkha population.
For the second strategy – cutting off essential supplies – Mamata had sent an indication while addressing the press on Saturday. “How the supply line will get normal if trouble persists? I appeal everyone to stop this violence and call off the strike. We are ready for talks and negotiation, once the strike is called off,” she had said.
The Hill region is totally dependent on the Bengal plains for ration supplies. Once Darjeeling would be deprived of essential commodities, the protests would subsequently dwindle and subside, claim senior bureacrats.
The Gorkhaland agitation entered its seventh day on Sunday. The hills have witnessed a complete shutdown throughout the week. Barring pharmacies, all shops, restaurants and hotels remained shut.
Gurung, while issuing a statement on Saturday from an undisclosed location, claimed the death of 3 GJM workers in police firing. However, ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma denied the allegations, saying, “No firing was carried out by the forces.” He instead blamed the protesters of using guns, apart from petrol bombs.