Even as the West Bengal government set up a fact verification committee in respect of the recommendations of the Justice Shyamal Sen Committee, it announced here on Saturday that the election schedule for the Gorkha Territorial Administration would be notified “immediately.”
These developments came after a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders at the State Secretariat.
State's Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters that the GJM representatives said during the meeting that some of the “factual information” on which the high-powered committee's report was based was not correct, so the government had decided to set up a fact verification committee.
Stating that the government would come out with the notification for the elections to the GTA by this month-end, Mr. Ghosh said that notification for delimitation of the areas that would go to elections would be out next week.
To a question whether the GJM team had agreed to participate in elections, he said: “During the meeting we had no such impression that they [GJM] have not agreed to the elections.”
He said that as per the terms of the tripartite GTA agreement, the first election to the proposed body would be held in areas under the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC). So the GTA elections and the report of the committee could not be linked, he said.
Earlier while speaking to the press, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the high-power committee's report was a humiliation to the people in the hills and its recommendations should be scrapped.
On being asked about the elections, Mr. Giri said the party representatives had not come to the State Secretariat to discuss elections to the GTA.
Asked whether the GJM would continue with its protests as announced initially after the report was made public last week, he said this would be decided after discussing this meeting's outcome with party president Bimal Gurung.
The panel headed by retired Justice Shyamal Sen has recommended that five mouzas in the Dooars Terai plains be added to the GTA. The recommendations irked the GJM which was demanding that at least 150 of the 396 mouzas in the region be added to the GTA.
Meanwhile, the government said in a press note that the fact verification committee would be headed by the Secretary, Department of North Bengal Development and would look into any representation on the factual aspects of the report of the high-powered committee.