CM job plan for Morcha volunteers

Mamata Banerjee in Darjeeling on Thursday

Darjeeling: Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said the state government was considering the recruitment of Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP), a volunteer force raised by Bimal Gurung in 2008, as civic police in a move that could further weaken the sidelined Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader.

"We are looking at recruiting those in the GLP who do not have any cases against them as civic volunteers," Mamata said in Darjeeling.

The GLP was raised by Gurung during the Gorkhaland movement and the force had a strength of 5,000. Its avowed purpose was to manage traffic and help in disaster management.

However, the personnel - who wielded lathis, had a distinct uniform and were trained by ex-servicemen - were also accused of moral policing. This included enforcing a ban on liquor. Cases were slapped on many GLP members for allegedly occupying government buildings during the agitation.

Considered loyal to Gurung, the personnel were paid Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 every month by Gurung. After the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in 2012, the force was gradually disbanded and many members sent home.

An agreement signed among the Centre, the state government and the Morcha in 2011 provided for special relaxation to "Gorkha youths" in the armed forces.

Many believed the agreement's aim was to help absorb the personnel. However, such relaxation was never offered by the Centre. "Many GLPs are supporters of Gurung and such a move (the civic police plan) could weaken Gurung further," said an observer.

Mamata also decided to hold an industry meet in Darjeeling in March. Such a conclave was planned in December last year but put off after Mamata called off a planned trip to the hills.#


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