Violence returns to the hills, GJM burns copies of GTA accord

Violence returns to the hills, GJM burns copies of GTA accord
After an incident-free week, violence returned to the Darjeeling hills with GJM supporters allegedly targeting the house of the chairman of a development board in Kalimpong district and burning copies of the GTA accord.

Hundreds of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists held a demonstration and burnt copies of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) accord at Chowkbazar in Darjeeling today, the 13th day of the indefinite shutdown.

Some shirtless GJM workers during the demonstration broke tubelights on their back leading to injuries.

Activists of the Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the GJM, threatened to commit self-immolation and launch a fast-unto- death if the Centre did not pay heed to their demand for a separate state.

The security forces kept a strict vigil and Internet services remained suspended in the hills where markets were closed.

The GJM activists and pro-Gorkhaland supporters set ablaze the house of RajenBhetiwal, the chairman of the West Bengal Khas Development and Cultural Board in Kalimpong district, last night and vandalised three vehicles.

The board was constituted by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in 2016 for the welfare and development of the Khas community.

The GJM asserted that its 45 members had resigned from the GTA last week and the administrative body had ceased exist.

The GTA agreement was signed by the Centre, the state government and the GJM in 2011 following a prolonged unrest in the hills.

"By burning the GTA accord, we ended our relations with the state government," a GJM leader said.

GJM leader Binay Tamang said, "No political party will take part in the GTA elections. If anyone takes part in the polls, they will do it at their own risk."

The GTA had three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik under its authority as also some areas of Siliguri sub-division in Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district.

Meanwhile, GJM Yuva Morcha state president Prakash Gurung asked the Centre to initiate steps for creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.

"We will now intensify the agitation by resorting to fast-unto-death and self-immolation. The Centre must open a dialogue on the one-point agenda of Gorkhaland as this is related to the identity of our community," he said.

In Kolkata, the chief minister reviewed the situation in the hills at the state secretariat with senior officers.

IGP Javed Shamim, who was one of the senior officers deputed to the hills, met Banerjee and submitted a report on the situation there.

State Tourism Minister and TMC leader Gautam Deb slammed the GJM and said, "Violence cannot be the language of any movement and appealed to them to restore peace in the hills."

He said that the GTA agreement would not be rendered null and void even if some people burnt copies of the accord.

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