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College to close in transfer protest

Darjeeling, Dec. 23: Bimal Gurung has directed the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarathi Morcha to close down the Darjeeling Government College office for an indefinite period starting tomorrow to protest the state government’s decision to transfer two teachers from the institution.

Although colleges in the hills are closed for winter vacations, the administrative wings of the institutions are open and a closure of the office would mean that the teachers who are to be transferred would not be given release orders, mandatory before joining a new college.

Sherpa Bhutia, the head of the geography department, is to be transferred to Chandernagore Government College. The other teacher, Willie Henry, who heads the zoology department, is supposed to be transferred to AB Sen College in Cooch Behar.

“We met our party president Bimal Gurung (today) and according to his directions, we are closing down Darjeeling Government College indefinitely from tomorrow,” Asok Chhetri, the vice-president of the Vidyarathi Morcha, told The Telegraph today.

Darjeeling Government College is the only government college in the hills. Under the GTA memorandum, the college is supposed to be handed over to the hill body

Gurung, the GTA chief executive, had directed GTA executive member R.P. Bhujel to send a written objection to the state higher education minister asking the government to stall the teachers’ transfers till the institution comes under the autonomous hill body.

The letter dated December 18 read: “I, as directed by Shri Bimal Gurung, Hon’ble Chief Executive, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha, request you to kindly hold the transfer of these teachers till the transfer of Darjeeling Government College is completed.”

Gurung had also directed Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma to look into the issue.

The development comes at a time chief minister Mamata Banerjee is about to start a tour of some north Bengal districts and a review meeting between the state, Centre and the Morcha on the functioning of the GTA is also scheduled in Delhi on December 26.

“This is a political transfer,” said Bhutia, who has sought the state government’s permission to remain in Darjeeling.

He cited the guidelines framed by the higher education department (Letter No. 583-Edn (H)/ION-59/12) dated June 15 which states that government colleges would be categorised in four zones: A, B, C and D. Zone A is classified as areas within 25km of Sealdah/Howrah and B, C and D are zones are within 75km, 200km and beyond 200km from the stations. “The guideline clearly suggests that if a teacher does not want to serve in A and B zones, he would be allowed to stay in C and D zones but not more than 10 years. I am in Darjeeling for only seven years now,” said Bhutia.

Darjeeling is in zone D.

The teacher also stated that rule number 4 of the guideline says that: “Normally a teacher would not be asked to serve in D zone colleges twice. If the incumbent opts for a second transfer to D zone, his request will be considered.”

“However, my request is not being considered,” Bhutia said.