Siliguri people unhappy over Darjeeling accord

July 20th, 2011 - 3:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Siliguri, July 20 (IANS) The Darjeeling tripartite agreement has triggered a strong resentment among a large section of people of the plains here as they feel their interest has been betrayed for short-term gain by the new West Bengal government.

A tripartite agreement on the Darjeeling hills was signed Monday between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), and the West Bengal and central governments.

At the core of the agreement is the formation of a new autonomous, elected hill council - the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) - which is armed with more powers compared to its predecessor Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

“(Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee is only interested in appeasement of Gorkhas to show to all that she has solved the problem of the hills,” said Nripen Saha, a small-time trader near New Jalpaiguri station.

“She has given everything to the Gorkhas, what did we get? We got nothing,” he added.

The resentment among plains people has also hit the popularity of the Trinamool Congress with many of its supporters turning away from the party over the creation of the GTA.

“Whatever Didi (Banerjee) may say, we won’t allow a single inch of Siliguri to go under the jurisdiction of the GTA. We are very happy here,” said Prabir Das, a former Trinamool Congress supporter who switched his allegiance to Amra Bangali, an outfit which claims to espouse the cause of Bengali speaking people.

Said Amit Pal, a Trinamool worker who quit the party after the announcement that the GTA will be formed: “We are unhappy with Didi’s decision.”

“We were ardent Trinamool supporters. We loved Didi. But she did injustice to the people of Siliguri who whole-heartedly voted in favour of Trinamool in the last assembly elections,” he added.

Banerjee had promised to solve the Darjeeling problem within three months of assuming power.

“In her stubbornness to solve the problem, she has inked the accord, selling off the future of the people of the plains to the Gorkhas,” said Sagar Dey, who runs a hosiery shop.

While several people expressed their resentment over the GTA, there were also some who felt that the agreement was necessary for the return of peace to the troubled Darjeeling district.

“This accord will bring peace. We are fed up with blockades and shutdowns,” said Niranjan Pal, a hawker near Siliguri station.

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