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We won't allow elections to GTA till our demands are met: GJM

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‘Include areas in Terai and Dooars region within territorial jurisdiction within GTA'

Activists of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) took to the streets in the Darjeeling hills on Sunday reiterating their opposition to any move to hold elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) without the inclusion of areas in the Terai and Dooars region in the north Bengal plains within the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed body.

Processions were taken out and rallies organised by the youth and women wings of the GJM in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong where demands were also raised for an interim set-up comprising nominated members till the formation of the GTA.

“We will not allow any elections to the GTA to be held till our demand for the inclusion of Gorkha-dominated mouzas in the Terai and the Dooars within the GTA is met,” Priya Bardhan Rai, general secretary of the Gorkha Janamukti Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the GJM, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

“Though the day's programmes were organised by the GJM's frontal outfits, they have been endorsed by GJM president Bimal Gurung,” Mr. Rai added.

But even as the GJM leadership has made clear that there could be no compromise on its demand for the inclusion in the GTA of what it claims to be 398 Gorkha-dominated mouzas in the Terai, Dooars and Rajgunj block of Jalpaiguri district, various regional groupings in these areas including the local units of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) have reaffirmed their opposition to any such move.

“We are against the transfer of any areas in the Dooars and Terai to the proposed GTA and shall launch a prolonged agitation if any move towards this end is made”, said Birsa Tirkey, State president of the ABAVP which claims to enjoy substantial support among the tribals of the region.

“We have conveyed our stand to the chairperson of the high-powered committee set up to look into the question of any transfer of area to the GTA during a hearing in Kolkata on February 24,” Mr. Tirkey told this correspondent from Binnaguri in Jalpaiguri district.

The day's developments in Darjeeling were significant as the rallies and processions taken out by the GJM's frontal organisations came four days after the GTA Bill was granted Presidential assent. While the GJM leadership had welcomed it, there has significantly been no public celebration in the hills of the Bill receiving the President's nod.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:24:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/we-wont-allow-elections-to-gta-till-our-demands-are-met-gjm/article2985561.ece

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