Gorkhaland issue solved, West Bengal chief says
Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday claimed that the over two-decade-old contentious issue of a separate Gorkhaland in the state's northern part has been resolved and an agreement signed.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, spearheading the demand, however, said it has not gone back on its demand.
"I want to inform you that Darjeeling problem has been solved. We are very happy. You all know that official-level talks were going on. An agreement has been signed," Banerjee told media persons here after the talks between West Bengal government officials and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which was spearheading the Gorkhaland movement.
"[The] Darjeeling matter has been settled today. I congratulate the people of Darjeeling for their long movement. I have also informed union Home Minister P. Chidambaram that the Darjeeling matter has been solved and I have also told him that the agreement has been signed," said Banerjee, with GJM leaders, including its secretary general Roshan Giri, by her side.
"It has been decided at the official level. Rest of the details will be given to you soon."
"We will visit Darjeeling very soon. We want the tripartite meeting involving the central government, state government and people of Darjeeling (GJM) to be held in Darjeeling. As soon as possible, we want to sign the final agreement on the soil of Darjeeling," Banerjee said.
The chief minister said the central government has been requested to make arrangements for the tripartite meeting in Darjeeling.
"It was not one-side traffic, it was [traffic from both sides]. We from the core of our heart wanted to solve the Darjeeling matter and we have solved it. Everything has been done keeping in mind the interests of both sides," said Banerjee when asked to spell out the magic formula that brought about the breakthrough.
"Today's meeting has resolved some matters regarding issues such as territory of Dooars and Terai, reserved forest, issues of casual employees of DGHC [Darjeeling Gorkha Hill council]. Overall, we are happy," Giri told reporters.
However, GJM legislator and party spokesman Harka Bahadur Chhettri said his party has not gone back on its demand for Gorkhaland.
The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland covering parts of northern Bengal gained momentum during the 1980s under the leadership of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghising.
But the reins of the movement were later taken over by the Bimal Gurung-led GJM which forced Ghising out of the hills.