GJM ups the ante, pulls out of hill administration

ALL HILL PARTIES DECIDED TO BOYCOTT THE ALL­PART MEETING CONVENED BY WEST BENGAL CM MAMATA BANERJEE ON JUNE 22

DARJEELING: The standoff in the Darjeeling hills escalated on Tuesday with the Bimal-Gurungled Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) deciding to pull out of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) after ruling it since 2012.

GJM ups the ante, pulls out of hill administration

Students of Jadavpur University and supporters of the Darjeeling Gorkhaland movement take out a solidarity rally in Kolkata on Tuesday. More than 300 students, mostly from the Darjeeling hill areas, participated in a silent candle­light march on the campus and on the road outside. Gorkhas from other walks of life also took part. The rally was organised by the Gorkha Solidarity Forum and People’s Collective. The participants said there are more than 400 Nepali­speaking students in JU.Besides, all 14 influential political parties and public organisations in the region unanimously declared their support to the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in north Bengal.

The decision was taken at a crucial all-party meeting here. The developments posed a major challenge to the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal, which made it mandatory this month for students in the state’s schools to learn Bengali.

The hill parties decided on Tuesday to boycott an all-party meeting that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has convened on May 22. The Left Front too announced it won’t attend.

The meeting loses its relevance as the major stakeholders have no interest in it and the ruling Trinamool will not be represented by Banerjee, who is touring the Netherlands.

The parties, including BJP, signed a resolution in which they decided to boycott the next GTA election. The GTA accord was signed in July 2011 and the quasiautonomous administrative council was formally formed next year. GJM spokesman P Aryun said his party will leave the GTA and honour the decisions taken at the meeting.

“A separate Gorkhaland state is the common goal and we all will now concentrate on our united movement to achieve this goal,” he said.

Pro-Gorkhaland organisations such as the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which led a mass movement in the past for a separate state, pledged not to rest till the goal is achieved. Neeraj Zimba of GNLF said: “Now Kanchenjunga will only smile with the new dawn at Gorkhaland.”

The West Bengal government also reportedly plans to extend an internet ban till June 26 in a move to halt rumours from spreading through social media. The extension was not officially announced till Tuesday afternoon. But an executive with a private service provider said telecoms were asked to stop services till next Monday. “We have no option but to follow the government directive,” he said.

Officials at the state secretariat said the government has already submitted a report on the situation to the home ministry. The state government in it just stopped short of blaming electoral politics behind the violence. It just asked the ministry to take note of the fact that elections of GTA are due soon.

“After detailing the incidents of violence and loss to government property, the West Bengal government asked the ministry to take note that GTA elections are due soon,” said an official.

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