Kolkata, 31 July
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today ruled out the dissolution of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJMM) called an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling Hills to press for its demand for a separate state.
The state government also accepted the resignation of GJMM chief Bimal Gurung from the post of chief executive of GTA — an autonomous and elected Hill development council created in 2011 through an agreement between the GJMM and the state and Central governments.
“There is no question of dissolving GTA. It was formed through a tripartite agreement. Moreover, the GJMM had agreed to it. The elections to the GTA were duly held and its representatives elected and the Hill council had started functioning,” said Miss Banerjee here.
Col (retired) Mr Ramesh Alley, deputy chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) will function in the place of Mr Bimal Gurung who resigned as the GTA chief executive yesterday.
An official of the state home department said that this arrangement will continue for a month, after which a fresh election is likely to be held for GTA. “The state government will proceed as per provisions of the GTA Act,” he said.
Meanwhile, responding to the state’s request, the Centre is sending around four companies of Central troops for deployment in Darjeeling Hills in view of the renewed agitation over Gorkhaland statehood.
The state may requisition more forces; additional companies of state armed forces and the Indian Reserve Battalion are also being sent to Darjeeling.
Spurred by the Congress-led UPA’s decision yesterday to endorse statehood for Telangana, the GJMM announced it would intensify the movement for the creation of Gorkhaland — a separate state carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northern West Bengal.
The GJMM has called an indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills from Saturday.
Miss Banerjee accused the Congress and a few of its leaders of disturbing the peace in Darjeeling Hills.
“The Congress and the Centre have behaved in a partisan manner by calling three-four people of GTA to Delhi when they were to decide about Telangana. It is most unfortunate when people in positions of responsibility behave irresponsibly. They don’t have the right to disturb the peace which is prevailing here,” Miss Banerjee said.
Without naming the GJMM, she also warned it against indulging in politics at the cost of the Hills’ economy.
“It is highly unacceptable for us that people think they can politicise Darjeeling at the cost of its economy. It is unacceptable that at any point of time they will ask tourists or students to leave the hills. I am warning those who intend to disturb the peace in Darjeeling,” she said.
The GJMM has issued a diktat to tourists and students to leave the hills before Saturday when the indefinite shutdown is to begin. Many tourists have already left.
Kolkata, 31 July