Divide Darjeeling into two districts: GJM

August 3rd, 2011 - 6:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 3 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Wednesday demanded the bifurcation of Darjeeling district due to its “uneven development” and demography.

A two-member GJM delegation placed the demand at an all-party meet convened by the West Bengal government at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings here.

“We have placed our demand regarding the bifurcation of Darjeeling… considering the uneven development in the district, the terrain, backwardness, and topography. We want Darjeeling to be bifurcated but that should be done after the formation of the GTA (Gorkha Territorial Administration),” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said after coming out of the meeting.

The meeting dwelt on renaming of the state and reorganisation of larger districts.

A tripartite agreement on the trouble-torn Darjeeling hills in northern West Bengal was signed July 18 between the GJM and the state and central governments, triggering euphoria in the hills, but protests and a shutdown in the plains.

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

An expert committee has been set up for the purpose of the survey of the Gorkha-dominated parts of Siliguri, Terai (plains of Darjeeling) and Dooars (foothills of the eastern Himalyas) to examine if areas from these places can be brought under the GTA.

The committee is expected to give its report in six months.

Giri, however, demanded that there should be no division of Jalpaiguri district.

“We don’t want division of Jalpaiguri district and Alipurduar area as of now before the report of the high power committee,” said Giri.

The GJM has been spearheading the agitation for a new state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of Darjeeling and some parts of Jalpaiguri districts for the last three years after sidelining the Subash Ghising-led Gorkha National Liberation Front, which was in the forefront of the movement since the 1980s.

The three-decade long anti-government protests have witnessed killings, police crackdowns and long shutdowns which severely impacted the hills’ economic mainstays — tea, timber and tourism.

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