Rumblings about Gorkhaland in Darjeeling again

Siliguri: Exactly a month after the West Bengal government signed a bipartite agreement with the GJM, described as `historic` by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, rumblings about `Gorkhaland` are again being heard in the Darjeeling hills.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung has been holding meetings in Darjeeling district claiming that none could resist the formation of Gorkhaland, while urging partymen in the plains in the Dooars to ensure that the government assessment team returned convinced that people there area wanted to be under the new hill council.

At the signing of the bipartite agreement on June 7 the GJM had made a proposal for inclusion of Gorkha-dominated areas in Dooars and Terai in the plains in adjacent Jalpaiguri district in the jurisdiction of the proposed council.

The state government had then announced the formation of a high power, 9-member committee to go into the proposal and submit its report within six months.

The committee was also to look into the geographical location and the present status on the disputed territories.

Perhaps to keep the pressure on the state government on its demand for including 196 moujas in the area, Gurung has been making references to Gorkhaland at his meetings.

During a one such meeting at Kalchini in the Dooars, where the GJM`s influence runs, Gurung directed partymen to ensure that the government assessment team saw GJM flags fluttering from the majority of households.

The GJM has agreed to an autonomous hill council with more financial and executive powers, which would replace the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, a long-standing demand.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on the day of the signing of the bipartite agreement that the Darjeeling problem had been settled as pledged by her before before the May assembly elections.

About the `magic formula` that clinched the agreement, Banerjee had then said, "It is our heart and good intention.

The magic formula for reaching this agreement is development."

Gurung said, "Gorkhaland will also include 196 moujas of the Terai and Dooars region. This is why we have proposed inclusion of these moujas in the proposed interim council to Mamatadi."

He, however, has expressed confidence in the new state government headed and GJM`s decision to co-operate for the well-being of Darjeeling.

Asked about the development, Minister for North Bengal Development Gautam Deb, said that the entire subject was being directly looked after by the chief minister.

Adibasi Vikash Parishad President John Barla, however, said, "not an inch of the Terai and Dooars will be allowed to be included in the interim council. We are fighting for inclusion of the region under the Sixth Schedule."

Barla said that an AVP delegation would soon meet the chief minister and demand inclusion of Terai and Dooars under the Sixth Schedule.

The demand for Sixth Schedule status for the hills was originally raised by GNLF supremo Subhas Ghising, who had once ruled the hills with an iron hand till be was ousted by the GJM in 2008.

After his ouster, the GJM had shelved the demand.