Featured Image: Empty chairs at the all-party meet of the state government in Siliguri on Thursday.
By Our Newsmen
Siliguri / Kolkata, 22 June: STATE government convened all-party meeting for restoration peace in Darjeeling Hills today failed to make a breakthrough with all major political parties from the Hills and the plains staying away from the parleys.
Not only this! Barring two, no other among the 15 development boards of different hill communities set up by Mamata Banerjee government sent their representatives.
The meeting held at Siliguri Circuit House today afternoon, was attended only by the representatives from Kami development board, minority community development board, Bahujan Samaj Party, Nationalist Congress Party, and of course the ruling party Trinamool.
State home secretary Malay De had convened the meeting on behalf of the state government, while education minister Partha Chatterjee represented the Cabinet, police was represented by north Bengal ADG N Ramesh Babu, tourism minister Gautam Deb and PWD minister Aroop Biswas represented the Trinamool.
Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Das Gupta, and superintendent of police Akhilesh Chaturvedi, chose not to come as they were busy monitoring the situation in Darjeeling.
Political parties based in Darjeeling Hills boycotted the meeting as they want to hold parleys only with the Centre and that too on the demand for creation of Gorkhaland state; opposition parties from the plains skipped the meet as they considered it a futile exercise in CM’s absence.
Despite the setback, minister Partha Chatterjee told reporters after the meeting that it was only the beginning and the state government would keep the option for dialogue open.
“People in the Hills want peace and they are with us. Peace has to be resorted in the Hills, while our government is doing its best; others must also come forward. There must be an end to the destructive activities that are on in the Hills,” he said.
Asked about the suspension of mobile Internet and telecast of local cable news channels in the Hills by the administration, Chatterjee said that one should be more concerned about the scarcity of food grains and other essential commodities in the Hills due to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called indefinite strike since 15 June.
“It’s strange that everybody is talking about Internet suspension, but not about the food crisis in the Hills,” the minister quipped.
Home secretary Malay De denied to accept that today’s meeting was a failure. “We had expected all to attend the meet as misunderstandings can be sorted out only through dialogue. Government is keeping the negotiation channel open and we hope others would join the peace talks in future.”