Other States

Pact on Gorkhaland administration today

When the sun rises over the Kanchenjunga on Monday, it will usher in a new chapter in the political history of the Darjeeling hills with the signing of a tripartite agreement for the setting up of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) at Pintail village near here. It will be inked by the Union government, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the West Bengal government.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee arrived at the Bagdorga airport on Sunday afternoon and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram is expected to come on Monday. GJM president Bimal Gurung and other leaders will be present on the occasion. However, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra has declined the invitation.

Mr. Gurung met Ms. Banerjee at Sukna on Sunday evening.

The formation of the GTA, the culmination of a series of tripartite talks initiated when the Left was in power in the State, will ensure greater financial and administrative powers than what the body it replaces — the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council — had.

The signing of the agreement is expected to restore stability — at least for some time — to the region, which has witnessed unrest, a brutal assassination and months-long shutdowns for nearly three years in the course of the agitation for a separate State of Gorkhaland that took a new turn with the formation of the GJM.

“The people of the region are very happy that this agreement will be signed,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu.

Asked about the perception that the GJM was deserting the statehood demand, Mr. Giri said if some people thought so it could not be helped, but Gorkhaland “is only a matter of time.”

Mr. Giri was also pleased with the announcement of a Rs. 600-crore Central package and expressed the hope that Ms. Banerjee would also announce financial help.

But there has been criticism of the decision to convene Monday's tripartite meeting. Various outfits have opposed the signing of the agreement for, they are apprehensive of claims by a section of the GJM leadership that the proposed set-up is only a step towards realising the ultimate aim of a separate State.

Despite appeals from the local Trinamool Congress leadership, the Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee, an organisation based here, has decided to go ahead with its call for a two-day bandh from Monday.

Excitement

But the mood on the streets is one of excitement, though the streams of the GJM's party colours that line the streets are punctuated by the odd banner written in Bengali — “Siliguri is ours.”

“We are very happy that the agreement is being signed. We are certain that the statehood of Gorkhaland is not far away,” said Ajanta Sharma, a resident of Salbari near Siliguri even as she put up streamers in green, white and yellow — the party colours of the GJM.

On the other hand, sceptics like Arjun Chettri are concerned that the setting up of the GTA will only delay, perhaps rule out the dream of a separate State.

The assertion points to the difficult negotiations ahead over the claims by different ethnic groups to the Terrai and Dooars region contiguous to the hills. The GJM has pressed for inclusion of these regions under the GTA.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 10:37:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/pact-on-gorkhaland-administration-today/article2236015.ece

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