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Rally to celebrate Darjeeling accord


Darjeeling : Around 8,000 Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) supporters took part in a rally here Thursday to celebrate the signing of the Darjeeling tripartite agreement on the creation of the autonomous development council Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) in West Bengal.

The march, that saw participants dressed in colourful traditional attire dancing to music, started from Darjeeling railway station and ended at Darjeeling four-point crossing.

A tripartite agreement on the trouble-torn Darjeeling hills in north West Bengal was signed Monday between the GJM and the state and central governments, triggering euphoria in the hills.

At the core of the pact is the formation of a new autonomous GTA, which is armed with more powers as compared to its predecessor Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

At the celebrations, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri read out the agreement in Nepali at the four-point crossing.

In Darjeeling, all shops and educational institutions were closed to enable people take part in the rally. Shops, however, remained open in Kurseong and Kalimpong.

Though offices were open, attendance was thin. Most of the tea gardens were closed for the day.

Giri said rallies will be organised in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik July 28, Aug 1 and 3, respectively, to celebrate the signing of the accord.

GJM leaders, including Giri and vice-president Pradip Pradhan thanked the chief minister for signing the agreement and said there will be infrastructural development and growth in the hills once the GTA comes into effect.

The demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland covering parts of north Bengal gained momentum during the 1980s under the leadership of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghising.

But the movement was later taken over by the Bimal Gurung-led GJM, which forced Ghising out of the hills.