GJM to continue its stir, says ultimatum not Mamata`s

GJM on Sunday said it will continue its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills, but without violating the court`s directive.

Darjeeling: Noting the 72-hour ultimatum set by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was not a West Bengal government deadline but a court order, the GJM Sunday said it will continue its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills, but without violating the court`s directive.

"The 72-hour deadline set by the government is not their deadline, but it is the court`s deadline requiring the state to respond and file a report.

"We reiterate that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha respects the court orders and will comply with it. The Morcha will use no force or picketing in the forthcoming programmes in Darjeeling," said GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said.

Armed with a Calcutta High Court order asking the state government to prevent forcible shutdown, Banerjee Saturday had given the deadline to the GJM to withdraw the shutdown or face "strong action".

The order, a copy of which the GJM leadership received Sunday, was made by the court in a public interest litigation seeking prevention of forcible shutdown.

The GJM asserted it would continue the stir Monday followed by a peoples` curfew beginning Tuesday but assured "no force or coercion or picketing will be used to enforce it while essential services will not be interfered with".

"In keeping with the highest democratic traditions, the GJM supporters will continue to exercise their freedom of expression, speech and their right to assemble peacefully without arms to press for their demand for Gorkhaland," said Gurung.

With the GJM already in talks with the central leadership, Gurung ruled out any talks with the state government.

"This matter concerns the centre and we do not want talks with the state government. The decision has to be taken by the centre," he said.

The GJM announced a 24-hour relaxation in the shutdown Thursday on the occasion of Independence Day and kept the courts out of the ambit of the shutdown.

It has also called an all party meeting Monday followed by a meeting of its central committee where it will decide its future course of action.

"We have invited all parties in the hill," was central committee leader Raju Pradhan`s reply on if the Trinamool Congress will be a part of the meeting.

Meanwhile the Banerjee administration continued its crackdown on the movement arresting GJM leaders.

Apart from arresting three key GJM leaders including Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) council member Mahendra Pradhan, Saturday, four leaders of the outfit`s youth wing were nabbed by police Sunday.

Gurung`s close aide Anit Thapa, is also behind bars. Most of them have been arrested in connection with old cases.

The GJM has dubbed the arrests "politically motivated".

So far nearly 200 GJM activists and supporters have been arrested.