With their demands accepted, the people living in the hills of Darjeeling heave a sigh of relief<br><STRONG>UMA KANTA KHANAL</STRONG> in Jhapa

Aug. 9, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 05 No.-4 Aug. 05-2011 (Shrawan 20,2068)<BR>

With the agreement to form Gorkhaland Territorial Authority (GTA), the Gorkhaland movement in the hill district of West Bengal, that is, Darjeeling, has been suspended. The movement was initiated by Gorkha
Janamukti Morcha four years ago demanding a separate state for the Indian Gorkhas.

The agreement was signed on July 18 in a tripartite talk with representatives of central and state governments and the agitating Morcha by home secretary of West Bengal G. D. Gautam, organisational secretary of the central home ministry K. K. Pathak and general secretary of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha Roshan Giri. The agreement was made public arranging a meeting in Pintail Village, Siliguri in the presence of union home minister P. Chidambaram, chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee and president of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha Bimal Gurung.

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha had eleven rounds of talks with the central and state governments. Morcha claims that the agreement is the positive result of those talks.

The territory has three subdivisions of Darjeeling district. They are Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. The same subdivisions were included in the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was led by Subash Ghising. The GTA will have 59 departments to operate. There were only 19 departments at the time of Ghising's administration.

GJM had demanded keeping Terai and Dooars areas in the territory but the agreement says that there will be a research in six months whether those lands will be involved in the territory or not. The administrative bodies of the territory will be elected within six months of the agreement. There will be fifty members in the administration. Forty five will be elected and five will be nominated.

The central and the state governments will provide a special package for the territory.“We are not dividing Bengal,” chief minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee said while addressing the meeting in Siliguri, "We, the central and state governments are with you. You have to develop Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. You have to support us to develop Bengal."

Union home minister P. Chidambaram advised Gorkha leaders should use the package, not misuse it. Other pro-Gorkhaland parties have raised their voices against the GTA agreement saying that it is old whisky in a new bottle. Central committee member of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League Pratap Khati said,

"The agreement is the greatest betrayal to the Gorkha people. The desire of Gorkha people was not autonomy but a separate state, Gorkhaland."

A similar kind of agreement was made in 1988 when the Gorkhaland movement led by Subash Ghising was in the peak. Dawa Pakhring, president of Gorkha Rajya Nirman Morcha, said, "The demand of Gorkhaland is not for making roads and buildings. But this is connected to the real identity of Indian Gorkhas."

But Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung has said the original demand for Gorkhaland remains. "We have never said that we have withdrawn our demand for Gorkhaland," Gurung told reporters in Siliguri. When asked about the statement by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that there would be no division of West Bengal, he replied, "That is absolutely her personal and political opinion."

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