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GJM postpone April 10 strike, confrontation avoided in Hills

DARJEELING : A confrontation was avoided between the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) at the eleventh hour as the latter on Wednesday called off its proposed strike on April 10 against the move of the former to appoint para-teachers on contractual basis in 46 primary schools across the Darjeeling district for teaching Lepcha language. Making the announcement to party supporters at Gorubathan in Kalimpong, GJM president Bimal made the announcement. “The matter is sub judice as it is pending in the High Court after we filed petition against the state government. We have to look into technical details before going ahead with our protest. As such we have postponed our April 10 strike of the Hills that we had called earlier,” he said. While the GJM had dubbed the move of the state government as unwarranted interference in the affairs of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, observers said going for a strike would have been a difficult decision as the GJM had earlier pledged to avoid strikes and calling one on an issue involving the welfare of a hill community would have been embarrassing too.

The GJM-led Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) had filed a petition in the high court on March 20 challenging the state government’s decision to appoint 46 para-teachers in 46 primary schools in Darjeeling district. “We will wait for the high court verdict on April 10. If it is positive than good but if it is against us than we will move the Supreme Court,” Gurung warned. The state government had issued a notification on June 3, 2014, directing the Darjeeling district administration to start the process of appointment of para-teachers to teach Lepcha language in primary schools. Accordingly, the district administration after floating a recruitment notice conducted the written examination on March 17, 2016 in the three Hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling. The GTA said the hearing on April 6 had been postponed to April 10 although no reasons were provided. “There was a hearing on April 6 but it was postponed for April 10. The judge did not give us any reasons for the change. 

Let’s see what happens in the hearing,” said GTA Sabhasad P.T.Ola who had filed the case on behalf of the council body. Earlier the GJM had called the strike on April 2 to protest against the state government interfering in the Hills council matters as education was a transferred subject according to the 2011 GTA act. However, the party shifted the proposed strike citing Good Friday celebration in the Hills. “This time besides the matter being sub judice, there is an examination of the North Bengal University (NBU) on April 10. We don’t want students to be inconvenienced,” Gurung said. The final list and place of postings of the selected candidates was issued by the chairman of the selection board after an interview at the SDO’s office in Kalimpong on March 25. However, the candidates are yet to join their respective schools. 

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