Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung on Thursday told reporters in New Delhi that he was ready for talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, PTI reported. The party is willing to negotiate and resolve the standoff with the state government and take the discussion on Gorkha identity forward, he said.

Darjeeling had been tense for more than three months in 2017 after the GJM begun a movement demanding that a separate state, Gorkhaland, be carved out of West Bengal. Since then, the party broke into two factions.

“Dialogue is the solution and I am ready to talk to Mamata Banerjee if she approaches the issue with an open mind,” Gurung said. The Gorkhas demands are well within the ambit of the Indian constitution, he stressed.

Gurung rejected reports that he was leading a separatist movement, and added that he was prepared to face an independent investigation into the Darjeeling violence.

The unrest

Violence broke out in Darjeeling in June 2017 after Banerjee announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Though she had said that hill districts will be exempted from the rule, the GJM began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.