West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee set the pace for a resolution of the Gorkha impasse in Darjeeling Hills after a three-hour meeting with a delegation of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), during which Gorkhaland was not discussed, however.
After the meeting, chief secretary Samar Ghosh announced measures ranging from setting up a high-powered committee to demarcate the jurisdiction of the proposed Gorkha administrative set-up, which will be an elected body and replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Autonomous Hill Council.
Until such an administrative set-up is created, there will be an interim board of administrators to ensure that development work is not neglected.
Earlier, during the negotiations with the state and the Centre, the GJM had insisted the members be nominated and not elected.
“It’s a historic day. The Gorkha problem stands resolved. I called union home minister P Chidambaram and informed him about the agreement between the government and the GJM,” Mamata Banerjee told the media.
GJM spokesperson Roshan Giri said after the meeting: “We are happy. Several issues including the demarcation of territory have been discussed.”
Ghosh added: “The focus of the entire strategy is to lend more autonomy and powers for development to the people of the hills.”
In 2007, the GJM resumed the agitation for a separate state called Gorkhaland, proposed to be carved out of the Darjeeling Hills and the contiguous Gorkha-dominated areas of West Bengal. The Gorkha National Liberation Front started the movement 20 years earlier, and it culminated in the formation of the Hill Council.
The new administrative-set up will have the powers to frame rules under the Constitution.
The committee for demarcating the territory of the administrative set-up will consist of members of the GJM, the state government and the Centre, and will submit in six months its report on the feasibility of including the Dooars, Terai and other Gorkha-dominated areas. The team will make surveys in the Dooars and Terai and hold meetings with various stakeholders.