The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which has been demanding a separate state in the hill regions of West Bengal, has recorded its first major political victory at the third round of tripartite talks on Tuesday.
The Centre and the state have bought peace, agreeing to the GJM demand to scrap the existing hill council under the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), work out an alternative administration and appoint an interlocutor for Delhi to carry forward negotiations.
A jubilant GJM leader Amar Lama promised to keep peace in the hills “unless provoked by the West Bengal government”.
“It was agreed, in principle, to repeal the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) Act, 1988,” home secretary G.K. Pillai announced after the talks. He added that the proposal to establish a hill council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — granting self-rule to tribals — would now be dropped.
The DGHC was created in the eighties after GNLF leader Subhash Ghising spearheaded the bloody Gorkhaland movement and settled for the council that he headed till recently.
Pointing out that the GJM recovered some files from the private possession of former DGHC councillors and employees that showed rampant corruption, party spokesperson Roshan Giri said the CBI would probe the corruption cases during Ghising’s tenure.
Senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling with GJM’s support, saw the development as a step towards the creation of Gorkhaland.
“They have had very satisfactory talks, on the basis of which, I hope, the creation of a separate state is eventually possible. That’s their main demand.”
Besides appointing an interlocutor to hold discussions with the state and GJM on Delhi’s behalf, the home ministry will send a central team to review developmental works in the district. The state governmen will send its officials to initiate the utilisation of the Rs. 70-crore development fund lying unspent.