Gorkha leaders discuss aspects of Gorkhaland issue with West Bengal Home Secretary
General Secretary of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Roshan Giri met West Bengal Home Secretary G.D. Gautam to discuss the issue of departmental transfer and demanded swift withdrawal of cases against those agitating for the Gorkhaland.
Meanwhile, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the proposed new development body in northern hills of the state, is a semi-autonomous body for the Darjeeling Hills.
Gorkhas, who are ethnic Nepalese, are demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland be carved out of Darjeeling region to protect their Himalayan culture and heritage, and protests have picked up again this month.
"Our delegation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) met the home secretary today to discuss two things. The main point was to discuss the clause of departmental transfer. The Home Secretary will be visiting Darjeeling on November 26 and the GTA's departmental secretary will also meet him. An extensive discussion would take place on certain issues. In addition to this the government of West Bengal (eastern Indian state) has released 65 crore (650 million) rupees and 24 (240 million) crore rupees as fund for the GTA," said Giri on Wednesday.
Recently GTA elections were held in three hill sub-divisions, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong with nearly 5,90,855 voted for 45 seats.
Earlier, the elections for GTA were held in the year 1990.
He also demanded withdrawal of cases registered against those who agitated in the demand for the separate Gorkhaland.
"We also discussed the pending cases registered during the agitation for Gorkhaland (separate state). The GTA agreement talks about withdrawal of those cases and we want that the withdrawal should be expedited. We discussed this issue as well," said Giri.
The Gorkhaland movement that began in 1980s had ended with a truce between the then Gorkha leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi, after he accepted limited autonomy in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
At least 1,200 people died in the first Gorkhaland campaign, but protests ended a few years later after Gorkha leaders accepted limited autonomy.
The Darjeeling Hills region is geo-politically and strategically important for India as it lies close to the borders of China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.