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Gorkhaland members meet Mamata Banerjee to discuss issue of autonomy

Kolkata , Sat, 24 Mar 2012 ANI

Kolkata, Mar 24 (ANI): Designated members of the High-Power Committee of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on Saturday called on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to discuss the issue of the region's autonomy.

Addressing the mediapersons after the meeting, Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung said numerous issues like holding elections of the newly formed Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) and inclusion of several areas in the plains of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri Districts to the GTA were discussed.

"We said that our people have come here as representatives, the person who was our representative for 52 years, so the previous government had also kept one representative in the Rajya Sabha. But, this time of the year, it did not happen. Though we are unhappy, we have told Mamata Banerjee that it was wrong on her part and that she should consider our requests the next time," said Gurung.

Gurung further said that the meeting was fruitful with Mamata Banerjee and further action would be taken once the report is submitted to the state government over the inclusion of the areas.

"The High Power Committee delayed it, which is why the issue has come up. This Committee is on behalf of the government and also has few members of the Jan Mukti Morcha; so they are jointly discussing the matter and we urge them to submit the report as soon as possible. So, whatever area will come under the GTA, the election will take place accordingly," added Gurung.

A renewed demand for a separate Gorkhaland region, which would include Darjeeling and some contiguous areas of Jalpaiguri District, created turmoil in the past few months.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the regional outfit was rued at the impasse over the inclusion of their areas in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Bill on the contention that the West Bengal government has not yet endeavoured to resolve the issue amicably.

The non-political tribal outfit, Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas (ABAVP) and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), have been at the loggerheads with the government over the demand of GJM for the merging of 199 administrative blocks (mouzas) each from the Dooars and Terai region in the GTA.

Earlier in February, Banerjee had met GJM leaders to discuss the simmering row over Gorkhaland issue.

Banerjee, accompanied by 12 ministers along with Secretaries of concerned department and senior officials of six districts, held a review meeting at Siliguri to take stock of development work in north Bengal.

The meeting was to discuss the GTA Bill that was passed by the state government on September 2, 2011.

The Bill is now awaiting the approval of the President for implementation.

The GJM had signed a tripartite treaty with the state government of West Bengal and the central government on the issue of granting semi-autonomous territorial status to the Gorkhaland region.

The Gorkhaland agitation had scorched the hill districts of Bengal for most parts of last year leading to chaos in the region.

The Gorkha population in West Bengal is estimated to be around a million.

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) is a semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling Hills in West Bengal. The GTA will replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years. (ANI)


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