'Peace, stability in Darjeeling shouldn't be disturbed': Mamata

Banerjee, who was speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected board members of the GTA, assured the people of Darjeeling that the state government would extend all support.

Published: 12th July 2022 10:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2022 10:29 PM   |  A+A-

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee (Photo | PTI)


DARJEELING: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday expressed hope that peace and stability would remain in the hills following the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections held after a decade.

GTA is a semi-autonomous body formed in 2011 to administer Darjeeling hills.

The elections to it were first conducted in 2012 and then again on June 26 this year.

Banerjee, who was speaking at the oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected board members of the GTA, assured the people of Darjeeling that the state government would extend all support for the development of the hills.

The chief minister announced a slew of development projects for the hills, saying she was "not here to capture the hills but to win the hearts of the people".

Darjeeling, often referred to as the queen of the hills, has witnessed several agitations over the years, with political parties promising the people a separate Gorkhaland state and implementation of the Sixth Schedule, which grants autonomy to a tribal-inhabited region.

"The elections in the hills have never been so peaceful. GTA polls were held to ensure peace and stability remained in the hills," Banerjee said.

"We want development and prosperity for the hills. We don't want violence and disturbance," she said.

"Please don't let the hills' peace and stability get disturbed."

The Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) leader Anit Thapa and others took oath as board members of the GTA.

He is likely to be the next chairman of the GTA.

Banerjee requested the elected members to keep aside their political affiliations and work for the development of the hills.

"If a few leaders try to instigate violence, don't allow them to do so.

If peace and stability remain in the hills, the economy of the hills will also get a boost," she said.

Stating that in the last ten years, the GTA has received Rs 7000 crore from the state government, the chief minister said if there is peace, there will be economic development as industrial hubs and IT hubs would come to the hills.

"Lots of students have to go to the plains to pursue higher studies. We have decided to build a university at Mungpoo in Darjeeling," she said.

The nine-month-old BGPM emerged as the largest party in the elections to the GTA, winning 27 out of 45 seats.

"Today is a new dawn for the people of the hills. The GTA will pave the way for an era in the hill's development. Several parties have betrayed the people of the hills by misguiding them and deprived them of development," Thapa said after being sworn in.

Traditional hill parties like the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Gorkha National Liberation Front, besides the BJP, have boycotted the semi-autonomous council elections.

"The GTA is no longer an autonomous body. It doesn't look after the rights of the people of the hills. It does not reflect the aspirations of the people of the hills," GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said.

In 2011, after the Trinamool Congress came to power in West Bengal by ending the 34-year-long rule of the Left Front, the GTA was formed in the presence of GJM supremo Bimal Gurung, Mamata Banerjee and the then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.

The GTA replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), which has administered the hills for 23 years since 1988.

The GJM swept the first polls in 2012, winning all the seats.

Elections could not be held in 2017 due to a violent statehood agitation, and a state-appointed administrative body took over the reins of the council.

India Matters


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