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GJM to burn 2011 Gorkha accord today, Darjeeling braces for more violence

The resignation of GJM members last week and the burning of the accord signifies a firmer push for a separate state of Gorkhaland

india Updated: Jun 27, 2017 10:35 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Darjeeling
Gorkhaland,Darjeeling,Bimal Gurung
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had called for burning of the accord last week as Darjeeling was rocked by violence over demands for a separate state. (AFP)

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will burn copies of the tripartite Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) accord on Tuesday, scaling up its agitation for a separate state even as violence returned to Darjeeling hills the night before after over a week-long lull.

On Monday evening, miscreants set ablaze the house of Rajen Betiwal, chairman of the West Bengal Khas Cultural Development Board, at Paiyun Bustee in Kalimpong, police said. His three cars were also vandalised.

Betiwal told HT that his wife and son were inside the house when 12 to 13 persons set the house on fire.

Betiwal’s wife and son managed to flee.

The GJM has been alleging that 15 development boards were set up for various ethnic communities by the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to weaken Morcha.

In an earlier incident of violence, three GJM supporters died on June 17 in Darjeeling after security forces opened fire as agitators clashed with them.

In view of the GJM’s latest agitation programme of burning the GTA accord, police are put on high alert. On Monday noon, police and central forces led by three IPS officers, conducted route march in different parts of the hills.

The accord was signed on July 18, 2011 between the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM, paving the way for the semi-autonomous body to rule the hills.

The GTA agreement capped four years of struggle for a separate state of Gorkhaland after Bimal Gurung broke away from Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and formed GJM in 2007.

Since the latest flare-up on June 8, other hill parties such as GNLF have been mounting pressure on GJM that rules the semi-autonomous body to resign from GTA and scrap the accord that, they argued, was the biggest stumbling block on the way to a separate state.

Last week all the 45 elected GJM members resigned from the GTA.

The resignation and burning of the accord symbolise total rejection of the agreement in favour of statehood.

GJM leaders, however, did not reveal the time and spots where they will burn the copies of the agreement to ensure police cannot take the wind out of their sails.

But Darjeeling and Pintail village in the foothills are likely to be two of the locations. The accord was signed in Pintail village near Siliguri six years ago.

Personnel of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) were deputed at Pintail village as administration suspects clashes could break out if the copies of the agreement are burnt there.

On Thursday, there will be an all-party meeting in the hills to formulate the next course of struggle.

First Published: Jun 27, 2017 09:15 IST