Centre to abolish Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council

Centre to abolish Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council

Fourth round of tripartite talks ends on a positive note

24-hour statewide shutdown in Siliguri against the separate state issue of Gorkhaland, on Tuesday. Normal life was disrupted across West Bengal with rail and road traffic severely affected. AFP

The decision follows the “positive” conclusion to the fourth round of the tripartite talks involving the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).  

Though it was agreed that the Centre would appoint an interlocutor after consultations with the GJM and the West Bengal government, no name for the position had been finalised.

GJM leaders said “nothing is ruled out” when asked about the possibility of Jaswant Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Darjeeling, being picked for the position.

However, GJM—which is spearheading the movement to create Gorkhaland as a separate state from West Bengal—has described the latest round of meetings as a “success.”

The meeting, attended by Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, GJM central committee member Amar Lama and the West Bengal chief secretary and home secretary, agreed to hold the next round of talks on December 21 at Darjeeling.

A team from the Centre will visit Darjeeling to review development activities carried out in the hill district.

“It was agreed in principle (at the meeting) to repeal the DGHC Act 1988,” Pillai announced after the talks.

Alternative arrangement

“The repeal of the Act will be in process as soon as an alternative administrative set-up/ framework is finalised through mutual consultations and agreement,” he added.

The three sides agreed that the proposal for establishment of a Hill Council under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution would be dropped.

At a separate press conference, Lama revealed that the West Bengal chief secretary and home secretaries had agreed to hold a CBI enquiry into corruption allegations against the Hill Council members.

He was confident that the GJM would accomplish its cherished goal of creating the state of Gorkhaland.

The proposed state would comprise Darjeeling district and the nearby area of Dooars in North Jalpaiguri with a total area of 6,450 km.

According to the 2001 census, the population in the region is likely  to be 30 lakh.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader mentioned a suggestion by Pillai of avoiding “bandh,” strike or agitation to help the situation. Jaswant Singh, who also addressed the meeting, lauded the “constructive approach” by the Gorkha movement and the West Bengal government. He said the Centre’s approach “has been positive since the change in equation” with the Left Front-ruled state following the  recent Lok Sabha elections.