Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram met Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung and two of his colleagues in New Delhi on Monday in what is understood to be preparatory talks for the upcoming round of tripartite discussions at a “political level” on the proposed regional authority for the Darjeeling region.

Mr. Gurung described as “positive” the talks in which Mr. Chidambaram was apprised of the GJM's viewpoints on the proposed body and how the regional authority could impact the political future of the Darjeeling Hills.

“Our views on the contentious issues relating to the setting up of the regional authority were conveyed to the Home Minister before they are taken up at the next round of tripartite talks at the political level,” GJM general secretary, Roshan Giri, who was present at the meeting, told The Hindu over telephone.

GJM leader held

In another development, a leader of the GJM's women's wing, Babita Ganguly, was arrested by West Bengal's Criminal Investigation Department in Darjeeling in connection with the murder of Madan Tamang in the hill town on May 21. She had to be hospitalised for a broken ankle sustained while trying to flee, D.P. Singh, Superintendent of Police, said from Darjeeling.

As for the meeting in the capital which Mr. Chidambaram emphasised was an informal one, not to be construed as “‘the next round of formal talks,” both Mr. Gurung and Mr. Giri said it provided them an opportunity to clarify the GJM's stand on issues “that still need to be sorted out” regarding the formation of the proposed regional authority.

These include the territorial jurisdiction of the body as well as matters relating to its composition.

There are also differences on whether the proposed body should comprise elected or nominated members. The GJM leadership has stated that it sees little point in holding elections for a regional authority whose term does not extend two years.

While the GJM has described as “reasonable” its demand that Gorkha-dominated pockets in the Terai and Dooars region of north Bengal be included within the jurisdiction of the regional authority the West Bengal government has expressed its opposition to this.

Keywords: GJMDarjeeling Hills