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Hint at GTA word on state
- Hill body to pass resolution on gorkhaland

Darjeeling, Jan. 21: Bimal Gurung today said the GTA Sabha would pass a resolution seeking the creation of Gorkhaland, a move which could embarrass the state government and strain the relation between the hill party and Mamata Banerjee.

Gurung didn’t specify a date for the GTA Sabha to pass the resolution.

After holding talks with the consul-general of Nepal in Calcutta, Chandra Kumar Ghimire, at the Darjeeling Planters’ Club, the GTA chief executive said: “We discussed a lot of issues regarding tourism, even though the meeting was an informal one. The tourism flow (to the hills) has increased in recent days and development works are taking place. But the current situation could bring a halt to all development works. Time has also come for the GTA Sabha to pass a resolution on creating Gorkhaland.”

Roshan Giri, an executive member of the GTA, said once a resolution was adopted by the GTA Sabha, a copy would be sent to the Bengal home secretary. “The state government does not need to ratify resolutions passed by the GTA Sabha,” he added.

The Sikkim Assembly had adopted a resolution, moved by chief minister Pawan Chamling, a few years ago on the creation of Gorkhaland.

A resolution on Gorkhaland by the GTA Sabha is bound to embarrass the state government under which the hill autonomous body functions.

“Such a move by the GTA Sabha before Mamata Banerjee comes to the hills on January 29 could leave the chief minister in an uncomfortable situation, as she always claimed that the Darjeeling problem had been solved by agreeing to form the GTA. If a resolution is passed, it will also affect the cordial relations between the Morcha and Mamata,” said an observer.

Gurung said the Morcha couldn’t afford to stay with the GTA forever. “Our primary demand is statehood and we cannot afford to stay with the GTA forever. We are committed to the cause of Gorkhaland and we will go all out to demand statehood,” said the Morcha president.

The hill leader, who had skipped the Morcha’s public rally at Darjeeling yesterday to renew the agitation for statehood, today said the party would hold a centralised meeting here on February 12.

“On that day, we will chalk out our strategies. Before the Darjeeling event, public meetings will be held in Kalimpong (on February 24) and in Kurseong (February 29),” said Gurung.

Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan also met Nepal’s consul general and made a proposal to the neighbouring country to set up an immigration checkpost at Pashupatinagar along the border. “At the moment, tourists have to enter India from Nepal through the Kakarivitta outpost. It will be convenient for tourists if an immigration post is set up at Pashupatinagar as the distance (from there to Darjeeling) would be less,” said Dewan.

Dewan also mooted a proposal to set up dry ports at Kakarivitta and Pashupatinagar in Nepal to increase trade.

He requested the Nepalese government to start air services through Bagdogra.

“The Bhutan airline uses the Bagdogra airport and there are talks of Bangladesh airline also coming to Bagdogra. Nepal should explore the possibility of using Bagdogra airport,” said Dewan.

Darjeeling district officials said India had already identified land to set up customs checkposts along the border near Kakarivitta and Pashupatinagar. Ghimire termed the visit a “courtesy call” and refused to speak to the media.