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Plea to rename Gorkha council, include tribal areas

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Sunday forged a pact with the Adivasi Vikas Parishad (AVP), and demanded that the name of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) in West Bengal’s Darjeeling hills be changed to Gorkhaland and Adivasi Territorial Administration (GATA) after bringing the tribal areas of Terai and Dooars under it.

 On July 18, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s. The AVP had opposed the agreement.

An expert committee was set up under the agreement to survey the Gorkha-dominated parts of Siliguri, Terai (plains of Darjeeling) and Dooars (foothills of the eastern Himalayas) and examine if areas from these places could be brought under the GTA. The committee is expected to give its report in six months.

 GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said: ‘After holding a series of meeting with the AVP leadership it has been decided that the name of the GTA be changed to GATA so that the moujas of Terai and Dooars can be included and there is a representation of adivasis.’

‘We just want changing of the name from GTA to GATA and other things of the agreement will remain the same,’ Giri told.

 The AVP, since the signing of the tripartite agreement and formation of the area demarcation committee, had declared that it won’t allow any area of Terai and Dooars to be included under the jurisdiction of the GTA.

 During Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s visit to North Bengal the AVP leadership demanded the formation of an adivasi territorial administration (ATA) on the lines of the GTA for the welfare of the tribals. The demand was rejected by Banerjee.

 ‘We had placed the demand of formation of ATA but the demand was rejected. We discussed the matter with GJM leadership and they agreed to change the name of GTA to GATA. We are happy about it,’ said John Barla, president, AVP.

 ‘We have decided to give the nod regarding the inclusion of areas of Terai and Dooars under the proposed GATA. The AVP will also have representation in the GATA. We will place this demand before Mamata Banerjee very soon,’ Barla told.

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