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27 Jun 2017

GJM to burn 2011 Gorkha accord today, Darjeeling braces for more violence

Pramod Giri, HT, Jun 27, 2017, Darjeeling: In an agitation programme that may escalate tension in the Darjeeling hills on Tuesday, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters will burn copies of the landmark Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord that was signed on July 18, 2011 between the Centre, Bengal government and GJM, paving the way for a semi-autonomous body to rule the hills.
The programme of burning of the agreement was announced by GJM president Bimal Gurung on June 23. Last week, GJM members who won all the 45 seats of the semi-autonomous body of GTA resigned.
The resignation and burning of the accord symbolise total rejection of the agreement to dive headlong into the struggle for statehood.
GJM leaders did not reveal the time and spots where they will burn the copies of the agreement to ensure the police cannot take the wind out of their sails.
But Darjeeling and Pintail village in the foothills will surely be two of the locations. The accord was signed in Pintail village near Siliguri six years ago.
Late on Monday evening, miscreants set fire to the house of Rajen Bhetwal, chairman of West Bengal Khas Cultural Development board. The house is located at Paiyun Bustee in Kalimpong. His three cars were also vandalised.
Bhetwal told HT that his wife and son were inside the house when 12 to 13 persons arrived and set the house on fire. Bhetwal’s wife and son managed to flee. GJM president Bimal Gurung has alleged that the 15 development boards were set up by the chief minister to wean people away from the Morcha.
The GTA agreement was signed in presence for former Union home minister P Chidambaram, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and GJM president Bimal Gurung.
In the latest episode of violence, three GJM supporters have died after security forces opened fire on June 17 in Darjeeling after clashes with the agitators. The north Bengal hills are passing through an indefinite bandh called by the Morcha. Monday was the 12th day of the bandh.
Personnel of Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) were deputed at Pintail village. Clashes may take place if GJM supporters try to burn the copies of GTA agreement there.
The police are on high alert to avoid any major mishap in the hills over the agitation programme. On Monday noon, police and central forces led by three IPS officers, conducted route march in different parts of the hills.
The GTA agreement capped four years of struggle after Bimal Gurung broke away from Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and formed GJM in 2007. Since the latest flare-up on June 8, other hill parties such as GNLF mounted pressure on GJM to resign from GTA and scrap the accord that, they argued, was the biggest stumbling block on the way to a separate state.
On Thursday, there will be an all-party meeting in the hills to formulate the next course of struggle.

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