More trouble for Mamata as GJM pulls out of GTA, parties support Gorkhaland
All 14 influential political parties and public organisations in the region unanimously declared their support to the longstanding demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in north Bengal.Updated: Jun 20, 2017 23:36 IST
The standoff in the Darjeeling hills escalated on Tuesday with the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) deciding to pull out of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) after ruling it since 2012.
Besides, all 14 influential political parties and public organisations in the region unanimously declared their support to the longstanding demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in north Bengal.
The decision was taken at a crucial all-party meeting at the Gymkhana Hall.
The twin developments posed a major challenge to the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, which made it mandatory this month for students in the state’s schools to learn Bengali.
The majority in Darjeeling speaks Nepali and they opposed the government’s move, which is viewed as an attempt by the state’s dominant Bengali population to foist their language on the northern hills. The Trinamool government’s directive reignited a simmering fire for statehood.
The hill parties decided on Tuesday to boycott an all-party meeting that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has convened on June 22. The Left Front too announced it won’t attend the meeting.
The meeting loses its relevance as the major stakeholders have no interest in it and the ruling Trinamool will not be represented by Banerjee, who is touring the Netherlands.
The parties, including the BJP, signed a resolution in which they decided to boycott the next GTA election.
The GTA accord was signed in July 2011 and the quasi-autonomous administrative council was formally formed next year.
GJM spokesman P Aryun said his party will leave the GTA and honour the decisions taken at the meeting.
“A separate Gorkhaland state is the common goal and we all will now concentrate on our united movement to achieve this goal,” he said.
Darjeeling has been on the edge after policemen were wounded in clashes on June 18 and three GJM supporters were killed in police firing on June 19. The popular tourist destination is paralysed because of a government clampdown on protests and an indefinite strike called by the GJM.
Aryun said the strike would continue until the government withdraws security forces from the hills.
Six companies of central forces and two columns of the army’s Maratha Light Infantry are deployed in the hills.
The government wants additional eight companies of central forces, officials at the state secretariat in Kolkata said.
Pro-Gorkhaland organisations such as the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which led a mass movement in the past for a separate state, pledged not to rest till the goal is achieved.
Neeraj Zimba of GNLF said: “Now Kanchenjunga will only smile with the new dawn at Gorkhaland.”
(With inputs from Sumanta Ray Chowdhary)