Darjeeling,: A day after the West Bengal government signed an agreement with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) on the issue of a separate Gorkhaland, political parties in the state’s northern hills Wednesday accused the GJM of betraying the region’s people.
“The GJM has fooled the people of hills by leaving out the demand of separate statehood for the Gorkhas during the meeting. It is now clear that the GJM used Gorkhaland as a platform to win the assembly elections. With the polls over, they have abandoned the issue,” Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists general secretary Taramoni Rai told IANS.
At the core of Tuesday’s agreement is the formation of a new autonomous elected Hill Council, which is armed with more powers compared to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.
The new council, to be formed through an enactment of the state assembly, would have administrative and financial powers and can also frame rules related to the hills. The council members will later be chosen through an election, but the body cannot enact any law.
However, Rai said the new administrative setup was even weaker than the Sixth Schedule Council proposed by Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) president Subash Ghising.
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader K.B. Wattar said the “solution” arrived at Tuesday was “nothing new”.
“The (earlier) Left Front government also proposed to give the same status but that time, they did not agree,” said Wattar.
He alleged that the GJM’s decision to leave the demand of a separate Gorkhaland and to resolve the issue after a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee clearly pointed towards a nexus.
“The GJM’s movement was against the Left Front, not for Gorkhaland,” said Wattar, adding that the solution that emerged from Tuesday’s meeting was temporary, not permanent.
However, Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) general secretary Lakshman Pradhan said: “The solution was reached after the state government played the Madan Tamang card. The GJM leadership was blackmailed to agree to setting up the autonomous hill council through elections.”
ABGL president Madan Tamang was killed May 21, 2010, and allegations were levelled against the GJM.
“We think that the GJM leaders were threatened that if they did not agree to the state government’s proposal for resolving the issue they would be arrested,” said Pradhan.
He also said that the formation of the autonomous body could fulfill the aspirations of the GJM but not those of the hill people.
The proposal for setting up a committee to reconsider the GJM’s demand of including the Terai (plains) and Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas) region within the territory of the autonomous council has created resentment among the tribal people living in the area.
Adivasi Bikash Parishad general Secretary Tez Kumar Toppa said: “We are against the inclusion of Terai and Dooars areas within the territory of autonomous body. We will prevent bifurcation of the region and demand the Sixth Schedule to be implemented for the two regions. A six-member delegation has already started for Kolkata to meet the chief minister.“
The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland covering parts of northern Bengal gained momentum during the 1980s under the leadership of GNLF supremo Subash Ghising.
But the reins of the movement were later taken over by the Bimal Gurung-led GJM, which forced Ghising out of the hills.–Courtesy:IANS