Mamata to visit Darjeeling, meet GJM leaders

Kolkata, May 12 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will embark on a three-day visit to Darjeeling Hills beginning May 14 during which she will meet the GJM leaders as well as hold talks with the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA).

“The chief minister will leave for Darjeeling May 14. She will have a meeting with the GTA officials and attend several government functions to announce development schemes for the region. She will also meet GJM leaders before returning May 17,” said North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb.

Banerjee’s meeting the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership is crucial especially after the relation between the two nosedived earlier in the year.

The GJM had earlier in the year accused Banerjee of infringing on the rights of the newly formed hill development body, and announced the renewal of its demand for the separate state Gorkhaland to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northern West Bengal.

Following a clash with the rival Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) activists, the GJM had May 5 called for an indefinite strike in the region but later withdrew it.

“We are looking forward towards Banerjee’s visit and will meet jher to put forth our demands,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.

Earlier this month the GJM had demanded Rs.575 crore from the central and state governments for creating infrastructure for the GTA.

A tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments July 18, 2012, for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA. It sought more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM swept its maiden territorial elections in July 2012.

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