GJM demands nominated interim arrangement for Darjeeling Hills
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) made it clear that the Government will have to settle for an interim nominated arrangement for the Darjeeling Hills till the area to be incorporated in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is finalised. Only after the area issue is resolved would the GJM agree to elections of the GTA.
The GJM were on an agitation path for a separate state since 2007. Finally after numerous rounds of tripartite talks between the Centre, State and the GJM, all three sides had agreed to the formation of the GTA-an autonomous administrative body.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the formation of the GTA (which would replace the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) had been signed between the Centre, State and GJM on July 18, 2011.
This MOA paved way for the passing of a GTA Bill by the West Bengal Assembly on September 2, 2011. After inter-ministerial consultation, it finally managed to get a green signal from President Pratibha Patil on March 7, 2012.
Reacting to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement that elections to the GTA would be held as per the agreement, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri stated “The territory to come under GTA is not yet finalized. Till then we cannot have elections. Let there be an interim arrangement by nomination to run the GTA. Only after the area is finalized should elections be held to the GTA.”
With the Government steadfast on the three hill subdivisions of the district (Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong) to come under the GTA (an autonomous administrative body for Darjeeling) and the GJM demanding the inclusion of 199 Gorkha dominated Mouzas of Terai and another 199 Mouzas of Dooars region of the Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri district, a committee had been constituted with representatives of the Union, State and the GJM to look into the matter.
This joint committee headed by Justice (Retired) Shyamal Sen is to hand in recommendations on this issue after studying the ground reality. Political parties as well as organizations, both for and against the inclusion of the mouzas have already deposed before the committee. The committee will be meeting on March 16 in Kolkata. A future roadmap is expected to emerge on that day.
Meanwhile protesting against any attempts of incorporation of mouzas of Terai and Dooars, 11 political parties and organizations have called for a 48 hour Dooars-Terai bandh on April 6 and 7th. Till then they will also be holding various forms of protests including “Rail-roko.”