All but four of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA)’s 45 elected Sabha members, belonging to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), abstained from a meeting of the body at Darjeeling on Wednesday while submitting a proposal stating that none of them will attend any meeting until the arrested GTA Sabha members are released.

The meeting was called to elect a new chief executive of the body. The post fell vacant after GJM president Bimal Gurung resigned late in July to devote his energies entirely to the movement for a separate State of Gorkhaland. As a result of the GJM’s decision to abstain from the meeting, no election took place.

A written proposal signed by 29 GTA Sabha members was submitted to the GTA principal secretary, R.D Meena, demanding the release of the ten GTA members arrested in the pro-Gorkhaland agitation. “Ten Sabha members of the GTA have been arrested which include six executive members of the body. We have set a pre-condition that the members should be released before the election, as those arrested can also contest the election for the post of chief executive,” Pradip Pradhan , chairperson of the GTA, told journalists.

The proposal submitted by the GTA members will be sent to the State government, he added.

Asked who would take over as the new chief executive under the changed circumstances, Mr. Meena said a decision would be taken on the basis of the GTA Act.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had warned the GJM of the State government taking “hard decisions” if the party does not attend the GTA meeting.

Addressing a section of the Lepcha community at an event in Kalimpong on Tuesday, she had directed Mr Meena to start developmental activities under schemes like MNREGA.

The GJM leadership, however, has described the GTA as a “closed chapter”. Meanwhile, a day after Ms. Banerjee’s visit, huge protests were organised by the GJM in the hills. People raised pro- Gorkhaland posters and bare-chested men whipped themselves in public in support of the demand.