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Darjeeling crisis: Bimal Gurung resigns as chief of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration

Bimal Gurung said the next all-party meeting will be held on June 29 to decide upon the next course of action. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Web Team Darjeeling, West Bengal, India Jun 23, 2017, 12.10 PM (IST)

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung, who is spearheading the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland, resigned as the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chief executive on Friday.

Gurung, who resigned along with other elected members of the body during the day, threatened to intensify the stir and demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged police firing in the hills on June 17 in which three GJM activists were killed.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said that the resignation letters were being forwarded to the GTA principal secretary.

The party has decided to burn copies of the GTA Accord on June 26 and 27.  The agreement was signed in 2011 with the federal government, the West Bengal government and the GJM for the administration of the Darjeeling and Kalimpong Hills.

Bimal Gurung said the GTA was a "closed chapter" and that the next all-party meeting will be held on June 29 to decide upon the next course of action.

A case of murder, arson, assault on police personnel and conspiracy to incite violence on June 17 has been filed against Gurung and his wife Asha.

Gurung alleged it was the state government which had violated human rights and slapped false cases against the GJM, he claimed.

He said it was the police which had opened fire in the June 17 incident. "We (the GJM) have the video footage of the incident. I demand a CBI inquiry," the GJM chief, who has not been seen since several days, said.

"I am not Kishenji (Maoist leader) who can be eliminated in a police encounter. I have not taken up arms against the country. I am fighting for the identity of the Gorkhas and in a democracy I have every right to do that," he said.

"Our fight will continue and I will fight till the end," Gurung said.

"The agitation for Gorkhaland will continue. We have resigned from the GTA. Our one point demand is Gorkhaland," Gurung told the media at party stronghold Patlebas in Darjeeling.

Asked about the Centre's response to the GJM's demand, Gurung said, "Talks are on with the central government and we hope something positive will come up soon."

The Calcutta High Court Friday directed that notice be served on Gurung by all means possible in a PIL challenging the indefinite bandh called by the party in Darjeeling.

A division bench comprising acting chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty asked the Darjeeling superintendent of police to serve the notice personally on Gurung or send it to his office.

The GJM chief also claimed on Friday that the state government had violated human rights and slapped false cases against his party.

Asked about the Centre's reponse to the GJM's demand, he said, "Talks are on with the central government and we hope something positive will come up soon."

Meanwhile, the evacuation of students, stranded in several boarding schools, took place today after the GJM's 12-hour deadline till 6 pm to allow them to leave the hills safely.

The boarding schools arranged for buses to send the students to Siliguri in the plains, where they will be received by their guardians.

Internet services remained suspended in Darjeeling for the sixth day, a police official said.

Tourism minister Gautam Deb said the way the GJM was throwing challenges was not correct.

"We know how to alienate and tackle them in a democratic way."

The state government had yesterday offered a dialogue to defuse the crisis with Home Secretary Malay De saying that the doors of the government were "open for talks to restore normalcy in the hills".

State education minister Partha Chatterjee maintained the police did not open fire.

"They (the GJM) are continuing the agitation holding the hill people as prisoners. What they are saying is not the voice of the people. Doors are open for discussion. But they are fomenting trouble," he said.

"Why have they (the GJM) resigned (from the GTA). The term of the GTA will end on June 30," he said.

 

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