(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 17, 2012
Fresh Worry in the Hills
From Our Special
Correspondent in Kolkata
THE apprehension of a fresh spell of political unrest that threatens the future of the proposed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) looms over the Darjeeling Hills with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha announcing a series of protest programmes spread over this month and the next which could well signal the resumption of its agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state.
This is in protest against the report submitted to the state government by a high-power committee recommending the inclusion within the jurisdiction of the GTA five mouzas in the Terai and Dooars region of north Bengal as against the GJM's initial demand for 396 mouzas. The recommendations by retired Justice Shyamal Sen, who headed the committee to look into the question of transfer of areas in the Terai and Dooars to the GTA, were made after fast tracking the work on the request of the state government. When the GTA treaty was signed between the state government and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha last year, it was also done hurriedly to achieve propaganda gains for both the parties. It led to suspicion and tension between different ethnic groups, resulting in clashes and violence.
Gorkha Janamukti Morcha has termed the recommendations as “humiliation’’ and decided to go for a fresh agitation. The programmes include opposing elections to the proposed body, resignation of its MLAs and councillors, a three-day strike in the region and the burning of copies of the GTA agreement in public. GJM has declared that all the chairpersons of the four hill municipalities of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik as well as all councillors belonging to the GJM will resign en masse on June 27. It has called for a 72-hour strike in the hills and the Terai and Dooars region from July 2. The three GJM MLAs and one Independent MLA supported by the party will resign at a public event on July 17 when copies of the GTA agreement will be set ablaze affirming the GJM's rejection of the GTA. However, a meeting between GJM and the chief minister is slated for the weekend.
The GJM leadership said it would be opposing the GTA elections in the hills. This threat, if carried out, would certainly create fresh trouble in the hills and may jeopardise the proposed polls next month. The state government has stated that the recommendations in the report are binding on all sides concerned, including the GJM.
The leadership of the Adivasi Vikash Parishad, an outfit active among the tribals in the Terai and Dooars region and which has been opposing the GJM's demand for inclusion within the GTA of areas, has also threatened an agitation in protest against the recommendations in the report. They are against the inclusion in the GTA of even a single mouza in the Terai and Dooars, as it feels any such move would go against the interests of the tribals in the region.
The CPI(M) and the Left Front repeatedly expressed apprehension that the change in existing geographical status of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, formed after a tripartite agreement in 1988, would create tension. However, Left Front chairman Biman Basu has reiterated that peace in the hills and the plains are the prime concern. “It is of utmost importance that unity among various sections of the people be maintained”, said Basu. The Left Front has demanded an all party meeting but no initiative has been taken so far by the state government.