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‘GTA is a hurdle’, says Darjeeling MP but doesn’t mention Gorkhaland demand

Darjeeling’s Lok Sabha MP Raju Bista on Tuesday called for the dissolution of the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) which runs the affairs in the north Bengal hills because it was “the biggest hurdle in finding a permanent solution to the Darjeeling Hill crisis.”

“The BJP is committed to finding a permanent solution to the Darjeeling Hill crisis,” Bista who won on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket with the highest margin in West Bengal this year, told HT on phone from Darjeeling.

The principal demand of the Gorkhas in the north Bengal hills is the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.

“The GTA is being run illegally and should be dissolved,” said Bista. “The Centre must intervene either through state government, state governor or bureaucracy.”

The GTA was set up in 2012 following a tripartite agreement on July 2011 between the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), the UPA II government at the Centre and the Left Front government in West Bengal.

The GTA now is being run by people nominated by the Bengal government who do not have people’s mandate, Bista said.

He also alleged that police atrocities are continuing in Darjeeling hills. “Thousands of people have been forced to flee after police slapped hundreds of false cases,” Bista said.

Without naming the office bearers of the GTA, Bista urged Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa (leaders of the Binay Tamang faction of the GJM) to quit the GTA and “fight together for a permanent solution.” But he made no reference to Gorkhaland, the separate state that the Gorkhas want.

Bista pointed out that the ongoing political blame game in Darjeeling hills would only hamper people’s aspirations for political solution. “Hence I urge all to work together,” he said adding the BJP is committed to finding political solution.

But Tamang accused the MP of being ambiguous because he did not propose a concrete line of action.

“Before the elections, just to hoodwink the people, Raju Bista said that he would bring Gorkhaland. But now he is not spelling out what he means by a permanent political solution,” said Binay Tamang who was the chairman of the GTA till May.

Bengal’s ruling party, Trinamool Congress also accused Bista of trying to fool the hill people.

“Had the BJP been sincere, it would have worked to find a permanent solution in the past when the party won the 2014 Lok Sabha election on the promise of fulfilling the long pending aspiration of the Gorkhas. The BJP MP is again trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the people of the hills,” said L B Rai, president of Trinamool Congress (hill district committee).

Bista is not the first to say that the GTA is a stumbling to finding a permanent solution for the Darjeeling hills issue. The north Bengal hills the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and GJM (Bimal Gurung faction) have been alleging that the GTA is being run illegally and is the biggest hurdle in finding a permanent solution. The GNLF and the Bimal Gurung faction of the GJM had supported Bista during the Lok Sabha election campaign.

Elections to the GTA were scheduled in June 2017, but were not held. Later that year, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced that Binay Tamang who professed allegiance to the state government, would head a committee that would temporarily run the semi-autonomous body.

There has been much bloodshed in the north Bengal hills over the demand of a separate homeland for the Gorkhas. While the first wave of violent struggle (1986-88) led by the GNLF left about 1,200 dead, as many as 13 lives were lost in the second half of 2017 during the second phase of movement led by GJM.

The GJM also enforced a record 104-day shutdown in the hills to press for Gorkhaland.

First Published:
Aug 13, 2019 17:12 IST

Source: HindustanTimes