Darjeeling: The GJM-led Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) on Tuesday decided to put on hold its separatist movement in West Bengal`s Darjeeling hills till Oct 20.
Announcing the decision, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said the agitation was suspended to facilitate tripartite talks on the Gorkhaland issue assured by central government.
"The GJAC today decided to put on hold our agitation for a separate state till Oct 20th. This is in deference to the appeal by union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde as a prerequisite for tripartite talks on the statehood issue. The condition set is that the talks should be held by Oc 20," said Gurung in a Facebook post.
Criticising the Mamata Banerjee-led state government for its "hostile and confrontationist attitude", Gurung however said he was expecting cooperation from the Trinamool Congress regime for the tripartite dialogue.
Following a meeting with a GJM delegation earlier this month, Shinde had assured convening of tripartite talks provided the Gorkha outfit withdrew its agitation which has paralysed life in Darjeeling since Aug 3.
The Banerjee government has adopted a tough posture and arrested hundreds of GJM supporters and leaders. The government earlier accused the central government of "adding fuel to fire" following Shinde`s meet with the Gorkha leaders.
The Gorkha outfit, which has been carrying out its agitation under different nomenclatures following a court declaring the shutdown in hills as "illegal", said it would organise a sit-in demonstration in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong from Sep 13 onwards in traditional attire.
Gurung, who earlier asked schools to "discuss the Gorkhaland issue in the morning assembly", also urged students and heads of educational institutions to send faxes to the prime minister, home minister and the president regarding Gorkhaland.
Asserting that the party was committed towards preserving peace in the region, Gurung urged all parties to come together for the talks.
"The tripartite talks should be on the GJM`s ultimate demand," said Gurung, who was handed over the responsibility of the chairman of the GJAC.
The pro-Gorkhaland outfits have intensified the movement since Aug 3 following the UPA`s endorsement of a separate Telangana.
The Gorkhaland movement for a new state - to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district - has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region`s economy based on tea, timber and tourism.