Uncertainty over the fate of the year-old Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) deepened on Monday, as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) made the release of all its leaders and workers arrested during the agitation a condition for attending the meeting to elect a new GTA chief executive.
The hardening of stand comes within two days of the GJM’s decision that its members in the GTA Sabha would attend the September 4 meeting to elect a successor to Bimal Gurung if only its 10 Sabha members — arrested since the agitation for a Gorkhaland started in the Darjeeling hills — were released on bail. All 45 elected members of the GTA belong to the party.
Mr. Gurung, who is GJM president, resigned as GTA chief executive on July 31 to take the statehood movement forward. The meeting to choose his replacement has been convened by the GTA Principal Secretary, R.D. Meena, at the instance of the West Bengal government.
This change in tack comes at a time when there are no signs of any let-up in the government action against GJM leaders and activists in previous cases. More than 800 have so far been arrested.
In another development, the GJM announced that students would “willingly” play a pro-active role in the agitation, taking out processions and holding rallies for five days from Tuesday.
The nearly month-long agitation has taken a severe toll on educational institutions, with schools and colleges shut for the past few weeks.
“This will only add a fresh dimension to the ghar bahira janata programme — one that should not be construed as a bandh, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu on the phone from Darjeeling.
“Students of all ages plan to highlight the attack on the human rights of the people of the region by the State government, which is bent on crushing the Gorkhaland movement by arresting our leaders and workers over old cases. The arrests are also a violation of a clause in the GTA agreement that the State will withdraw all such cases,” he said.