Millennium Post

Mamata wants GJM to honour Gorkhaland deal

The Mamata Banerjee government has taken a tough stand on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)'s outright refusal to abide by the Justice Shyamal Sen committee's recommendation to include five mouzas in the Gorkhaland Territorial Agreement (GTA) signed by the state government, the Central government and the GJM last year after Banerjee came into power.

The GTA was formed a year ago replacing the previous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). 'We will write to Mamata Banerjee first. Then a 21-member delegation will meet the chief minister and we will boycott all elections to the GTA,' said GJM leader Roshan Giri.

Cabinet minister in the Mamata Banerjee government Subrata Mukherjee, however, told Millennium Post, 'We are not interested in dialogues. Let the GJM keep its part of the deal and participate in elections. We want these areas to receive funds for development, especially from the Centre.'

Giri, however, indicated that from 2 to 4 July, they would observe Darjeeling shutdown and on 17 July they would burn the copies of the GTA agreement signed on 18 July 2011. Giri said legislators of the assembly from the region would step down en mass and they would hold a big rally on 27 July. 'This is a matter of our prestige, our sentiments, we have to fight,' said Giri.

Darjeeling, meanwhile, has been a big tourist draw this summer. With scorching heat wave sweeping the plains, people had thronged the hills in large numbers. The agitation is likely to hit the tea and tourism industry of the hills again, fear the residents.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters that the 10-member panel went by factors like contiguity and homogeneity of the population. But according to the GJM, they had expected at least 150 mouzas to be added to the GTA. 'In fact, our actual demand is 396. But only five were given and so it is a kind of humiliation for us,' said Giri.

Of the five mouzas that were recommended to be added to the GTA by the panel, two are in Jalpaiguri district and three in Darjeeling district. However, the Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP), who represent the Tarai and Dooars region, welcomed the panel's recommendation.

After Mamata Banerjee assumed power, a historic tripartite agreement was signed in July 2011 and this had raised hope of peace in Darjeeling hills. With an aim to end the Gorkhaland crisis, the accord formalised the formation of the new autonomous body, GTA. It was seen as a middle ground for the administration and those calling for a separate state to be carved out of the region.

In the presence of Mamata Banerjee, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the autonomous body to govern the region with more powers to the local people (Gorkhas or ethnic Nepalese) replacing the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), was formalised on 11 July 2011. Before formation of the GTA in 2011, Darjeeling had to cope with the economic fallout of tourists cancelling their holiday plans in the hills troubled by the agitations and shutdowns. The famous tea and tourism industry had also suffered as a result of the long periods of shutdown called by the GJM, which said the demand for a separate state dates back to 1907. The movement for a separate Gorkhaland claimed lots of lives during the first campaign for statehood led by Subhas Ghisingh, but had resulted in limited autonomy being granted to the region and the formation of DGHC.
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