Home Minister Rajnath Singh today appealed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM) to withdraw the ongoing strike in Darjeeling hills for a separate Gorkhaland state and asked the Union home secretary to convene an official-level meeting to discuss all related issues.
In a statement, the home minister said that in a democracy, dialogue is the only way out to resolve any problem and solutions can be found through restraint and mutual dialogue within the legal ambit.
"I appeal to the GJM and its leader Bimal Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh and to help create a conducive atmosphere for allowing normalcy to return to the area, particularly in view of the festival season," he said as the indefinite shutdown to press for a separate state of Gorkhaland continued for 104th day.
Singh said he has asked Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to convene an official-level meeting within a fortnight to discuss all related issues.
"Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, seven have been injured and the entire people of Darjeeling hills have suffered a lot since the strike. I have pained immensely by what has happened in Darjeeling hills," he said.
The indefinite strike called by the GJM has continued since June 12 though its rebel leader Binay Tamang had announced suspension of the bandh.
On September 20, the West Bengal government announced the constitution of a nine-member board of administrators with the same powers as Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) which is headed by GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
Rebel GJM members Tamang and Anit Thapa were made the chairman and vice chairman of the board respectively.
The state administration last night decided to lift the restrictions on use of internet services in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, which were imposed on June 18.