Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Friday started a special audit of the accounts of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), alleging corruption in the running of the semi-autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling and Kurseong districts.

A six-member panel comprising state government officials will review the accounts of GTA, controlled by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) since its inception in 2012, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Friday.

The audit comes a month before the second election for the GTA is scheduled to be held.

The panel will focus on fund utilisation by GTA in the past three years, and submit its preliminary report within two weeks, district officials in Darjeeling said, requesting anonymity.

The Gorkha-dominated Darjeeling and Kurseong districts remained uneasy on Friday, a day after GJM supporters clashed with the police and the state called in the army.

Six columns of 43 personnel each were deployed, and the “civil administration" regained control of the situation, the army said in a statement on Friday morning.

The army columns remain deployed as a “precautionary measure", according to a spokesperson for the Eastern Command.

The GJM had called for a 12-hour bandh on Friday, which passed off peacefully amid a tight vigil by the police, central paramilitary forces and the army.

Banerjee said the state had been exercising restraint for a long time, “but there’s a limit to everything".

“The law will take its own course," she said on Friday. 

Banerjee has formed a three-member team of top police officers from the state to oversee law and order in the hills. The officers, Jawed Shamim, Siddh Nath Gupta and Ajay Nanda, have reached Darjeeling.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung said the state was welcome to review the accounts of the GTA, and that such “tactics" would not undermine the agitation in the hills.

Nepali-speaking Gorkhas of Darjeeling have been protesting against a state government rule making Bengali a compulsory subject up to Class X.

Banerjee, however, clarified on Monday that schools in the hills were exempted from compulsory inclusion of Bengali in the curriculum.

The GJM’s protest, however, continued through Banerjee’s official visit to the hills which was to culminate with a cabinet meeting in Darjeeling on Thursday. The chief minister stayed on in view of the unrest.

GJM supporters turned violent shortly after the Thursday meeting ended. The state government claimed that they attacked the police. Several police personnel were injured and vehicles torched, the chief minister said.

Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party is seen making inroads into the GJM’s bastion. The party recently took control of the Mirik civic body and is expected to put up a tough contest in the upcoming GTA elections.

Five years ago, when GTA was formed, GJM had claimed all 45 seats, many unopposed.

Roshan Giri, a GJM spokesperson, said his party, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, would decide on its next course at a meeting on Saturday. He denied that GJM supporters had used force to disrupt vehicular traffic on Friday.

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