All eyes are on tomorrow's all-party meeting, convened by the West Bengal government in Siliguri to discuss the Darjeeling crisis, even as the indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 89th day today. This is the second all-party meet convened by the state government after the August 29 talks. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the agitation in the hills and had earlier said it would not attend the meeting if the issue of a separate state of Gorkhaland was not discussed, today said a seven-member delegation of the party, including three MLAs, would take part in the meeting. "We will attend the meeting tomorrow. We will stress on the issue of Gorkhaland.
We also want peace to return to the hills," GJM MLA Amar Singh Rai said. GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said although the party had decided to participate in the meeting, it had also urged the Centre to hold a tripartite talk to solve the crisis. The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and other hill parties will also participate in tomorrow's meeting. Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa, who were expelled from the GJM by party supremo Bimal Gurung, will also attend the meeting in their personal capacity as they have been invited by the state government. Thapa today urged the GJM leadership to shun the "path of violence" and help restore peace in the hills. "Some of the GJM leaders are encouraging violence. We feel that peace should return to the hills and for that, we need to shun the path of violence," Thapa said. A large number of shops were open in the Darjeeling hills today braving threats and intimidation by the GJM. After the first all-party meeting, the differences within the GJM started coming out in the open, leading to the expulsion of Tamang and Thapa from the party. For the third consecutive day, the police and administration, through a public address system, appealed to the locals to open shops and restore normalcy in the hills. Peace rallies were taken out by the residents in Kurseong, Darjeeling and Mirik. GJM supporters took out rallies in support of the Gorkhaland demand and the ongoing shutdown in certain parts of Darjeeling, Sonada and Kalimpong. Picketing was strengthened in some areas and posters and leaflets, in support of the strike, were distributed. Internet services have remained suspended in the hills since June 18.
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