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GJM now wants either separate state or UT

Darjeeling: Facing resentment in Darjeeling hills over its agreement with West Bengal government on setting up an autonomous hill council, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Wednesday said the new council will be a step towards getting a separate state or a Union Territory status.

After a meeting of Morcha leaders from the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong yesterday at the Gymkhana Club here, Bimal Gurung said in a statement that the agreement was not "final".

"A final solution would take place only according to the wishes of the hill people, an overwhelming majority of whom wanted separate statehood," Gurung said.

"The new council will be a step towards getting a separate state or a Union Territory status," he said.

Besides, the statement said, the Morcha does not want a constitutional guarantee for the new council as that would give a stamp of final status on the set-up.

Sources in the Morcha said the Gymkhana meeting was prompted by clashes between two groups of the GJM over the so-called dilution of the original demand for a separate Gorkhaland state at Kalimpong two days after the agreement was signed in Kolkata.

Resentment had been brewing among a section of local-level Morcha leaders across all three sub-divisons ever since the agreememt was signed, the sources said.

The Gymkhana meeting was attended by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, top leader Harkabahadur Chettri, Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan and others besides heads of different frontal organisations.

Other players in the hills like the All India Gorkha League and CPRM have threatened to launch a movement if the new council was set up jettisoning the hill people`s long-standing demand for a separate state.

AIGL leader Lakshman Pradhan told reporters that the party wants a speedy completion of the CBI inquiry into the murder of its former chief Madan Tamang by alleged GJM activists.

He said the AIGL wants investigation into the role of Morcha leaders, against whom FIRs have been filed.

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