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14 Jul 2017

Clock ticks, hill board chief quits

Men haul sacks of ration in Darjeeling on Thursday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Kalimpong, July 13: The chairman of the Khas development board today resigned from his post, a day before the hill parties' ultimatum to all chairmen and vice-chairmen of the bodies to step down or be deemed "anti-Gorkhaland".
Although Rajen Bhetiwal said the decision to step down was his own and he was not under any pressure, the move came close on the heels of attacks on the houses of the chiefs and representatives of some of the development boards set up by the chief minister. Yesterday, the house of the chairman of the Tamang development board was raided.
While issuing the ultimatum, the Gorkhaland Movement Co-ordination Committee had said those who would not resign by Friday evening would be deemed "anti-Gorkhaland".
"I had been in touch with the GMCC members for the past 10 days. I finally decided to quit today after consulting my family and friends," Bhetiwal said.
Three days before the GMCC had issued its ultimatum, the chairperson of the Rai development board, M. S. Rai, had quit his post. The vice-chairperson of the Bhutia development board, Lhamu Bhutia, has also resigned.
Apart from the three, several members of the executive and general bodies of the different boards have quit since the unrest began on June 8.
Sources said there was a sizeable section of board members that did not want to quit their posts.
"There is a clear indication that pressure will mount on these people if they do not step down. The GMCC has declared that those clinging to the posts would be considered as 'anti-Gorkhaland'," an observer said.
In another development, C. P. Khatiwara, the working president of Trinamul's Kalimpong branch, resigned from the party. "It's my own decision," he said.

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