इंडियन आवाज़     03 Dec 2023 01:08:12      انڈین آواز

Historic Darjeeling pact for Gorkhas signed

in presence of the Union Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram and State Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee and President of the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha Mr. Bimal Gurung.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Home Minister Mr. P. Chidambaram said that the signing of the agreement will put an end to the conflict in the region and will mark the beginning of better future for the hilly people. Mr. Chidambaram conveyed the good wishes of the UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on the occasion. He assured all kinds of support to the proposed Gorkhaland territorial administration.

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister Ms. Mamata Banerjee categorically said that there is no scope of division of Bengal in future. She criticised the opposition for politicising the issue over the name of the new autonomous body. She informed that the Gorkhaland territorial administration will be formed through election within six months. Joint Secretary of the Union Home Ministry, Mr. G.V. Gautam, the Home Secretary of the West Bengal government and Mr. Roshan Giri, Finance Secretary of the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha inked the agreement at a crowded function in the hilly town.

The opposition Left Front boycotted the ceremony condemning the arrangement of the deal. Few organisations who called 48 hour bandh in North Bengal from Monday protesting the agreement evoked mixed response.

The following are the salient points of the 16 page tripartite Memorandum of Agreement on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration signed by the Centre, the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha:

– The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, keeping on record the GJM demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, agree to form an autonomous body — the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration — through direct elections.

– Although the GJM was keen that the elected House of the Territorial Administration be called ‘Assembly,’ the Centre and the State Government persuaded the outfit to settle for ‘Sabha.’ (Both the governments wanted to avoid creating an impression that the new autonomous body was being granted symbol of statehood such as an Assembly.)

– The Morcha had demanded that the House be headed by a Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Instead, it has been decided that a chairman and deputy chairman will conduct the business of the House.

– As per the agreement, the GTA Sabha shall constitute of 45 elected members and five to be nominated by the Governor to give representations to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Minority Communities.

– The MPs, MLAs and chairpersons of municipalities shall be ex-officio members of the GTA Sabha.

The term of the Sabha will be for five years.

– Regarding the demand for granting Tribal Status to the Gorkhas except Scheduled Castes, the GJM or any organisation representing the Gorkhas will make an application to the Backward Classes Welfare Department of the state government.

– After examination by the department the matter will be referred to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Recommendations already submitted to the National Commission will be followed up by the State Government.

– The Government of India will consider granting ST status to all Gorkhas except the Scheduled Castes.

– There will be 59 departments in the new arrangement. These include the Tauzi Department to look after the tea gardens, the department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Information and Cultural Affairs, School Education, Land and Land Reforms, PHE, Urban Development and Municipal Affairs. The earlier DGHC had 32 departments.

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