Home Affairs Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday urged the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to withdraw its ongoing strike in Darjeeling and end the unrest.

The turmoil in the Darjeeling Hills began in June, after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. While she had clarified that hill districts would be exempted from the rule, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha began an agitation that soon revived the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

“Eleven precious lives have been lost so far, several have been injured and the entire people of the Darjeeling Hills have suffered a lot since the strike [began],” Singh said. “In a democracy, dialogue is the only way to resolve any problem. Solutions can be found through restraint, mutual dialogue and within the legal ambit.”

The minister also asked Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to set up a meeting with members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha within a fortnight in the Ministry of Home Affairs to resolve the conflict. “I also appeal to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and its leader Bimal Gurung to withdraw the ongoing bandh and help create a conducive atmosphere to allow normalcy to return to the area, particularly in view of the festive season,” Singh said.

On Monday, Additional Director General (Law and Order) of West Bengal Anuj Sharma had claimed that normalcy had been restored in the districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong after months of unrest. He had said that the newly-formed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration had started functioning effectively.