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GJM slams Mamata government for ‘interference’

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Tuesday said it will launch an agitation protesting the West Bengal government’s interference in the affairs of the autonomous council governing the Darjeeling hills, even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asserted she will not allow parting of the hills.

The GJM, which runs the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), has already announced that three of its legislators — Harka Bahadur Chettri, Rohit Sharma and Trilok Dewan, representing Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling respectively — will resign in protest against the government’s continuous “interference and non-cooperation”.

The GTA was created in 2011 via a tripartite agreement between the GJM and the state and central governments.

“We have now nothing to do with the state government which keeps on interfering in the GTA’s affairs. We will now raise the issue with the Centre. The state government has never bothered to abide by the tripartite agreement,” GJM chief and GTA chairman Bimal Gurung said.

Gurung said the chief minister — currently on a visit to the Darjeeling hills — brought “grief to the region” with every visit.

“She said she will turn Darjeeling into Switzerland, but she has done nothing. She keeps interfering by constituting various boards and trying to divide the people of the hills for political gain,” said Gurung.

He was referring to the bodies constituted by the Banerjee government for the development of indigenous communities of Tamang, Sherpa and Bhutia in the hills.

Iterating that all the three MLAs will tender their resignation on September 18, the GJM, which has been demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district, said they will begin agitations in a democratic manner.

“This cannot continue, we will start protests in a democratic manner,” added Gurung.

Meanwhile, the chief minister, addressing an event organised by the Tamang Development and Cultural Board, reiterated her stand that she would not let the state be divided.

“I can give up my life but will never give up the hills,” said Banerjee.

At the event, she handed over a cheque of Rs.10 crore to the Tamang Board for construction of 1,000 houses, and also assured similar funds to the Sherpa and Bhutia boards.