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43 of 45 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members pull out of GTA

LiveMint logoLiveMint 23-06-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: All but two elected representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) pulled out of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) on Friday, while party leader Bimal Gurung announced GJM’s withdrawal from a tripartite agreement that led to the formation of the semi-autonomous administrative body in 2012.

GJM, as the principal representative of the Gorkha community, was a signatory to the pact along with the centre and the state of West Bengal. The formation of GTA came after five years of intense agitation.

GTA replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 with the same objective of giving the Nepali-speaking community some autonomy.

On Friday, 43 of 45 elected members of GTA resigned in protest after the state administration brought murder charges against top Gorkha leaders. Of the two who did not step down, one has defected to Trinamool Congress, and the other is in police detention.

GJM had swept the election to GTA in 2012, winning all 45 seats, most of them uncontested. Election to GTA is due within weeks but GJM has said it will not allow the polls to be held. Gurung said on Friday a copy of the tripartite pact will be burnt on 27 June as GJM intensifies its agitation for the creation of a separate state.

“I am not Kishenji...I am not a Maoist,” said Gurung, referring to slain Maoist leader Mallojula Koteswara Rao, who died in a police encounter in November 2011.

The Gorkha leaders reiterated that the three GJM supporters who died after last Saturday’s clashes were killed in police firing. The administration, however, maintains that the police did not open fire, and has brought murder charges against Gurung, his wife Asha Gurung and other leaders of the party. Gurung demanded on Friday that the state had to take responsibility for the deaths.

GJM has called for another round of all-party deliberations on Thursday after it was resolved at two earlier meetings that the indefinite strike in Darjeeling will continue and that none of the local political outfits would take part in the election to GTA.

GTA, which did not have the power to make laws, has failed as an autonomous body, said Biswanath Chakraborty, a political analyst and a professor of social sciences at the Rabindra Bharati University.

Granting the Gorkhas more autonomy in governance, including the power to make some laws for the region under their control, under the sixth schedule of the Constitution is the best solution to the impasse, according to Chakraborty.

Meanwhile, West Bengal’s minister for parliamentary affairs, Partha Chatterjee on Friday wrote to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, expressing strong reservations about Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling writing to the Centre in support of the demand for Gorkhaland.

Chatterjee said in his letter that it was improper for the chief minister of another state to interfere in the matter.

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