GTA may elect new chief

State won’t dismiss criminal charges against Benoy Tamang.

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: October 3, 2013 4:23:39 am

The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) may have to elect another chairman with the state government unwilling to dismiss criminal charges levelled against newly elected Benoy Tamang,assistant general secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM),was arrested August 21 for various charges,including arson and rioting. He was elected GTA chief in a meeting called by the state government on September 27.

The GTA members had joined the meeting even as the state government had refused to agree to its demand to release its members arrested during the indefinite strike called in the hills in support of a separate Gorkhaland.

“Tamang’s election as GTA chairman does not absolve him of his crimes. It is for the court to decide on his fate. However,if the case is not cleared in a month,the GTA will have to elect another of its members as its chairman,’’ a senior official of the state government said.

Now even as the Centre has convened a tripartite meeting on October 23 to discuss the future of the GTA,senior GJM members are worried over the uncertainty concerning the election of a new GTA chairman.

Senior GJM leader and party MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri told The Indian Express from Kalimpong. “I don’t know what is happening. I am now waiting for an instruction from our party president to quit the Assembly,’’ Chhetri said.

There are indications that the state government will abstain from the October 23 meeting . Minister for North Bengal Development Gautam Deb said: “I have no idea whether the government will join the meeting or not.’’

After GTA president Bimal Gurung quit as GTA chief on July 29,the state government convened a meeting on September 4 to elect a new GTA chief. None of the GTA members had turned up. It was at the September 27 meeting where 34 of the 45 GTA members elected Benoy Tamang as the president. He is among the 10 GTA members arrested in pending cases.

Schools defy GJM diktats

Kolkata: With the state government cautioning schools in Darjeeling that their No Objection Certificates will be cancelled if they held the “five-minute compulsory prayer for Gorkhaland during the morning assembly” — a GJM condition that allowed the schools to reopen — the educational institutions continue to defy the diktat.

All CBSE- and ICSE-affiliated schools in the hills have not held the prayer since their reopening a fortnight ago. “The schools have not yet started any prayer. Some have rather stopped holding assemblies at all just to be tactical,” a senior official of the state education department said.

The official added the state government has ordered that “the NOC,mandatory for obtaining affiliations from CBSE and ICSE,would be cancelled if the schools made the students read out the prayers on Gorkhakand state”.

The other condition set out by the GJM before the schools reopened — that around 50 school principals write to Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) with mass signatures of students asking the Centre to intervene in the Gorkhaland issue — has also not been met.

“Even though the letter was drafted and read out in front of (GJM president) Bimal Gurung in a meeting between the school authorities and the GJM leaders,the schools are yet to post the letter to the PM,” a senior member in the CBSE committee said. ens

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