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GJM awaits Mamata government's approach to Darjeeling issue

Marcus Dam

No compromise on our demand for a separate State: Chettri


It is not a question of development but it is one of identity

Demand for setting up of a joint verification team


KOLKATA: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership has welcomed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's assurance that the problems of the Darjeeling hills will be addressed within three months but has reiterated that there can be no compromise on its demand for a separate State. Simply engaging with matters relating to development will not do, it said.

“If the government has the political will the issues involved can be solved within three months but it will be wrong to assume that the question at hand is only one of development,”senior member of the GJM's central committee and recently-elected MLA, Harka Bahadur Chettri told The Hindu over telephone from Kalimpong on Sunday.

One of the tasks ahead of the Chief Minister, who has kept the Hill Affairs portfolio for herself, will be to talk the GJM leadership out of its demand for separate Statehood in view of her recent assertions that she will not allow any division of the State if elected to power.

How this can be reconciled to the GJM's viewing of its runaway success in the Assembly elections in the three hill seats as a public endorsement of its demand for separation from West Bengal is the key question, “We will eagerly wait for the first steps she takes towards addressing the issues concerning the region within three months. But it is not a question of development; it is one of identity. This should be recognised,” Dr. Chettri said. Dr. Chettri along with GJM general secretary Roshan Giri were among the party leaders who met Ms. Banerjee shortly after she was sworn-in at Raj Bhavan here on May 20. She reportedly told them that she will be going to Darjeeling soon to discuss the outstanding issues with the GJM leadership.

The GJM expects that the new government takes with seriousness its demand for the setting up of a joint verification team comprising it, the GJM and the Centre to identify the Gorkha-dominated areas in the Dooars. It has been seeking the inclusion of these areas into the “Gorkhaland” State it has been demanding.

“Identification of these Gorkha-dominated areas in the Dooars will be a critical step forward in the ultimate demarcation of the region from the State,” Dr. Chettri pointed out.

“The new Chief Minister is well aware issue of territorial jurisdiction”, he added

The GJM leadership has dismissed the feasibility of an interim regional authority that it had earlier perceived as a step towards the creation of a separate State. “We are no longer amenable to the setting up of any administrative body with greater powers and a development agenda; it would amount to just being one with slightly more powers than Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council,” he added.

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