Polling for newly proposed autonomous body begins in W. Bengal
Kurseong (West Bengal), July 29 (ANI): Polling began for the establishment pf a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the proposed new development body in northern hills of West Bengal, began here on Sunday amid tight security.
Scores of voters came forward to cast their vote in the Kurseong region of the state on Sunday.
A voter from Panighatta, Dibash Rai, told reporters that people, who have been fighting for the creation of a new Gorkhaland, were happy and excited.
"All of us, including the people fighting for the GTA (Gorkhaland Territorial Administration), are feeling very happy. We are getting a new experience. We are very excited, as with this poll we can take effective steps for the constitution of Gorkhaland. We hope from the councillors that they should discharge their duties properly and help in forming the Gorkhaland," said Dibash Rai.
The election would be held in three hill sub-divisions, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
Nearly 5,90,855 voters would franchise for 45 seats out of which the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), an outfit demanding autonomous region of Gorkhaland in West Bengal have already won 28 seats unopposed.
Earlier, the elections for GTA were held in the year 1990.
Gorkhas, who are ethnic Nepalis, are demanding a separate state of "Gorkhaland" be carved out of West Bengal state's Darjeeling region to protect their Himalayan culture and heritage, and protests have picked up again this month.
Meanwhile, the security personnel were deployed in the polling regions to avert any untoward incidents.
"The situation is stable over here. The situation is normal and peaceful. No, we haven't received any information about any untoward incident," said Sub-Divisional Police Officer, (SDPO) Kurseong, Nima Norbu Bhutai.
Earlier, the Chief of GJM, Bimal Gurung and his associates met the federal Home (interior) Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram on June 26, where they had spoken about participation in elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the proposed new development body in the hills region of northern West Bengal.
He mentioned that that they had put forward the proposal for the recruitment for the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) to enable the autonomous region's own security force.
The Gorkhaland movement that began in 1980s had ended with a truce between the then Gorkha leader Subhash Ghising and New Delhi, after he accepted limited autonomy in 1988 with a new Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
At least 1,200 people died in the first Gorkhaland campaign, but protests ended a few years later after Gorkha leaders accepted limited autonomy.
Darjeeling hills region is geo-politically and strategically important for India as it lies close to the borders of China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. (ANI)
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