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15 Jun 2017

Govt appoints new GTA secretary, Gurung says protest will continue

ENS, Garjeeling, :June 15, 2017: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung on Wednesday said the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland will go on and asked tourists to avoid visiting Darjeeling. “It is not only a matter of tourists. They should try and avoid Darjeeling. Our agitation will go on. Let CRPF and Army men be deployed,” said Gurung.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday met Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi in Raj Bhavan and the government appointed C Murugan as the new secretary of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in the backdrop of the ongoing unrest in Darjeeling hills.
Sources said Mamata met Tripathi to brief him about the situation in the hills. Murugan, who was managing director of Tourism Development Corporation, will replace Donbosco Lepcha and will take charge immediately, a notification issued on Tuesday by personnel and administrative reforms and e-governance department said.
The agitations, which started as a protest against the “forced imposition of the Bengali language”, have now transformed into renewed demands for a separate Gorkhaland. Reacting to the government’s decision, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said, “This decision hardly affects us. The GTA has been ineffective. Mamata Banerjee has never allowed it to function. And now if she decides to change the secretary, how does it matter to us? As far as we are concerned, when we have Gorkhaland, GTA is irrelevant.”
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) spokesperson Neeraj Zimba said the front has consistently sought the dissolution of the GTA. “We don’t believe that GTA works as a concept. When we met the GJM leaders yesterday (Tuesday), we told them that our support for a separate Gorkhaland was unconditional but that our support for the GJM has a precondition — they should withdraw from the GTA agreement and resign en masse. The GTA agreement can not be dissolved as per law so our only alternative is to not participate,” Zimba said.
The GNLF has left its earlier position of pushing for the implementation of the 6th Schedule in the hills instead of GTA. On the administrative reshuffle, Giri said, “These are simply strong-arm tactics by a desperate Mamata Banerjee to control the hills. It is not going to work.”
The state government had earlier replaced GTA principal secretary Ravi Inder Singh and brought in Barun Ray. Sources in the secretariat said that Singh was removed following numerous corruption charges against Bimal Gurung-led GTA and its members.
The government had first replaced the Darjeeling SP and sent a three-member committee of IPS officers to Darjeeling to assist new SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi in maintaining law and order. Meanwhile, Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha held a meeting near Patlaybas.
“We will take out rallies in Darjeeling. If police use force on us as they did yesterday, we may call an indefinite bandh in the hills,” said Prakash Gurung, president of the youth wing. Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress workers continued to join GJM even on Wednesday.
( Inputs from PTI )

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