KOLKATA: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday made a historic announcement that the decades-long Darjeeling issue had finally been resolved.
At the end of the second day of the official talks between the state government and the GJM, Mamata said: “Darjeeling issue is on its way to getting settled. Home Minister P Chidambaram has been informed that the Darjeeling matter has been solved. An agreement has been signed between us at the official-level. Technicalities have also been worked out at the official-level.”
The Chief Minister had promised a “way out of the Darjeeling impasse in three months” at her first press conference after assuming reigns of the state on May 20.
State Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh is expected to speak to the Centre and Banerjee wants to sit for a tripartite meeting ideally within a week.
Calling the tripartite talks among the Centre, the state and the Hill party a mere formality, Banerjee said the meeting should be held at Darjeeling itself and not in Kolkata or Delhi.
Meanwhile, GJM secretary Roshan Giri said, “All contentious issues such as transfer of Tauji (right over tea gardens), territory of Terai and Dooars, reserve forests, casual employees of DGHC and sectarian crime were discussed. We are happy today.” Critical contentious issues were claimed to have been settled in the meeting and it was decided that a new interim administrative board, comprising representatives of the Centre, the state and the GJM, would be formed within two weeks. The 9-member committee which would decide on addition of territory and control of the tea gardens would submit a report within six months.
Interestingly, whileMamata kept repeating that the Hill issue had been resolved, Giri played it safe without commenting on GJM’s original demand for a separate Gorkhaland. He said, “These were only the minutes of the meeting.” A new Hill Council would be elected democratically by the people of the region at a later date. The council would have powers to form rules but not pass laws. The two-day meeting followed GJM chief Bimal Gurung’s show of support to Banerjee.