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October 26, 2013

Didi Scores, No More Bandhs in Darjeeling Hills

Didi Scores, No More Bandhs in Darjeeling Hills

With the Gorkhland movement stemmed following strong administrative steps, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday scripted yet another success in making the GJM shun the politics of bandhs which kept the Hills out of reach for three months.

“I told the seven-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) delegation not to organise bandhs and strikes in the Hills,“ Mamata said in Darjeeling.

Soon after, the GJM decided to set aside the Gorkhaland demand and assured to concentrate on development activities through the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). “Gorkhaland is not in the syllabus. We have come to the GTA syllabus,“ Harka Bahadur Chettri, Darjeeling GJM MLA, said.

Spurred by the UPA`s decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh, the GJM launched a series of agitation for a separate state since July 30. GJM president Bimal Gurung resigned from the post of the GTA chief executive member for the cause of Gorkhaland.

“First, the GJM will have bipartite talks with the state government after Diwali. This will be followed by tripartite talks between the Centre, state and the GTA. As per tripartite agreement, the Centre has certain obligations towards the GTA. In future, a GTA delegation along with Trinamool MPs will visit Delhi to demand funds for the GTA,“ Mamata said.

“I`m happy that the GTA has started functioning. They will have to elect a new GTA chief,“ she said. Incidentally, with Bimal Gurung having resigned as the GTA chief, the body had elected Binay Tamang as its new head. With Tamang currently jailed in Jalpaiguri, the GTA empowered deputy chief Colonel (retd.) Ramesh Allay to take charge. “We will elect a chief at the earliest,“ Allay said.

“Darjeeling`s development was discussed in detail. Bengal is our state and I have told them that we have to work together for development of the people. I have also told them that they can fight with me as much as they want, but they should not indulge in bandhs.

“Bandhs cause a lot of problems for our Hill brothers and sisters. It also hampers development activities,“ Mamata said.

The CM said an expert team would visit the Hills soon to chalk out plans for boosting tourism.“We will improve the traffic system in the Hills and launch projects for the beautification of Darjeeling Hills. In the winters, we will organise a cultural world festival. We will also hold sports events, marathons to attract more tourists,“ the CM said.

“Our relation has always been good. We will work further to improve our ties,“ she said.

The article was originally published in Hindustan Times on October 26, 2013.