Darjeeling (WB), Aug 21 (PTI) The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) today requested the Centre and the Bengal government to initiate talks at the earliest to restore peace in Darjeeling where an indefinite strike entered its 68th day today.Also Read - Several States Likely to Receive Heavy Rain Today, IMD Issues Orange Alert For Kerala

This is the first time that the GJM, spearheading an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland, expressed its willingness to hold talks with the state government along with the Centre. Also Read - Kolkata Restaurants Run Out of Food After 'Revenge Dining' During Durga Puja; Close Eateries Before Time

“The responsibility of ensuring peace in the Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars is not only that of the people who live here, but also that of the central government and the West Bengal government. We, therefore, request both the governments to initiate talks at the earliest so that peace and normalcy can be restored,” GJM joint secretary, Binay Tamang said. Also Read - India vs England Highlights T20 World Cup Warm-Up Match: Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul Guide India to a 6-Wicket Victory Over England

The complete change in the party’s stand came in the wake of GJM chief Bimal Gurung being booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in connection with twin blasts in Darjeeling on Saturday.

GJM, during the two-month long agitation, has repeatedly declined to sit for talks with the state government and had accused it of letting loose a ‘reign of terror’ in the hills.

Tamang reiterated that the GJM believed in democratic forms of protest and condemned the blasts in the hills.

“We condemn the blasts which took place in Darjeeling town and Kalimpong and we have already demanded a probe by NIA into the blasts on Saturday last,” Tamang said.

A hand grenade was hurled at the Kalimpong police station on Saturday night, killing a civic volunteer and injuring two other people.

In another incident, a high-intensity explosion rocked the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling town in the early hours of Saturday.

Tamang refuted reports of GJM having an understanding with the Maoists and the insurgent groups in the North East and said, “We condemn these acts of unfounded rumour mongering by the media. We once again reiterate that we do not have any link with any insurgent groups in the North East or anywhere else in India or abroad.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.