Expelled Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) leader John Barla decided to revert back to the Gorkhaland Adivasi Territorial Authority (GATA) path following a meeting with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) President Bimal Gurung at Jamuney near Darjeeling on Monday.
Earlier the Barla had proclaimed that he preferred development to GATA.
Tribal leader John Barla had been first removed from the post of President of the Terai-Dooars committee of the Parishad in November 2011 for hobnobbing with ABAVP bete noire GJM. Later on December 17, 2012, he had been expelled from the ABAVP. A day after the expulsion, in a meeting in Kalchini, Barla had categorically stated that he would give priority to development and not the GATA.
Along with Barla, two other leaders Tez Kumar Toppo and Sukra Munda have been suspended for two years and one year respectively for similar offence. The ABAVP State leadership has informed the West Bengal Government and the District Administration that the trio no longer represents the ABAVP.
Despite this Barla on Monday talked of a joint public meeting (along with the GJM) in Dooars next month to preach the benefits of GATA. “GATA will ensure all round development for the Dooars and the Hills. The entire population of Dooars wants to be included in the GATA. The ABAVP is not against it but only a few leaders. Not just a few Mouzas of Dooars but the entire Dooars has to be incorporated in the GATA” alleged Barla.
Barla stated that a committee has been formed in Dooars to sensitize the masses of the benefits of GATA.
Incidentally the GJM had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the State and Centre on July 18, 2011, for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) – an autonomous administrative body for the Hills to replace the present Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The ABAVP has been pressing for the 6th Schedule status for the Dooars region.
This had led to the passing of a GTA Bill by the West Bengal Assembly. The Bill is at present under inter-ministerial consultation. Following a green signal from the ministries, the Bill will require an assent from the President of India. The GJM suddenly decided to join hands with a section of the ABAVP (John Barla and other dissident leaders) for the formation of GATA.