Tripartite accord on Darjeeling signed, plains observe bandh

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Pintail (West Bengal), Jul 19: Ending two decades of uncertainty in the Darjeeling hills, a historic tripartite agreement for a new council with more powers was signed on Monday, Jul 18 even as the West Bengal government ruled out any division of the state.

The agreement for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung here, about 8 km from Siliguri. A 48-hour bandh was observed in the adjoining Terai and Dooars in the plains against the signing.

The agreement was signed by West Bengal Home Secretary G D Gautama, Union Home Ministry Joint Secretary K K Pathak and GJM general secretary Roshan Giri here.

A discordant note was struck by Bimal Gurung's wife Asha just before the signing saying that she was happy at the inclusion of the word ''Gorkhaland'' in the GTA agreement and the ''ultimate aim'' was to achieve a Gorkhaland state.

However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who kept her pledge to resolve the Darjeeling hill crisis within three months of coming to power, said there was no question of bifurcating West Bengal.

Assuring that a complete economic package would be given to GTA, she said that the agreement sought to confer to the maximum possible autonomy within constitutional framework and within central and state acts.

Describing the occasion as historic, Chidambaram said the Centre and the state government would fully back the GTA, which replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in 1988. 

PTI

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