GJM might renew Gorkhaland demand

The GJM wants the govt to set up an interim authority to replace the DGHC.

Darjeeling: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is holding talks with the Centre and the West Bengal government, might renew its demand for `Gorkhaland` if its conditions for setting up an interim authority to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), are not fulfilled, a top GJM leader said Thursday.

The GJM, at the fifth tripartite talks in New Delhi, had agreed to the constitution of an interim council for a duration of two years by 2011 prior to the creation of a
separate state.

However, the four issues obstructing the interim authority are its territorial jurisdiction, authority to manage tea gardens, the selection of its members and the
council`s legislative powers.

"There is every possibility of revival of the demand for Gorkhaland carved out from West Bengal if the interim council is not granted the way the GJM wants to have it," GJM
General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters.

He pointed out that the GJM has called a 48-hour bandh from December 21 in Darjeeling to press for the interim council.

While the GJM wants a nominated board to govern the interim authority, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee has said there was no question of it till the
GJM agreed to first hold panchayat and municipal elections.

The West Bengal government also wants to confine the authority of the interim setup to the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong as currently
administered by the DGHC, which the GJM has not agreed to. Asked about the main hurdle the GJM was facing from the government in creation of the council, Giri said "It
pertains to our demand for inclusion of Gorkha-dominated areas of Dooars and Terai in Jalpaiguri and inclusion of the tauzi department which keeps record of land in the proposed setup."

As part of pressure tactics before the December 20 deadline set by the Morcha for the government on the interim set-up, most offices in the hills were shut for the fourth

The date for the next round of tripartite talks has not been confirmed yet, while the GJM has told the government that interim set-up for the hills must be in place by December
20, failing which it would call a 48-hour shutdown. Adding to the complications, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which held its first political programme in Darjeeling on December 6, has renewed its demand for including Darjeeling hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

GNLF supremo Subhas Ghishing recently said the Centre and the state government could not go back on the MoU signed with him on the Sixth Schedule.

Ghishing, in political exile in Jalpaiguri after GJM`s emerged as a force bigger than the GNLF in 2007 also wanted to return to Darjeeling, but the administration was not giving
him permission.

GNLF legislator from Kurseong Shanta Chetri said Ghishing, who has lately begun to reactivate his organisation in the hills, was planning to stage a comeback rally at

"Aware of the current situation, the GNLF has decided not to organise its movement in town areas, but limit it to the tea belt," she said.

The GJM held a rally in Darjeeling on December 7 where its supporters burnt an effigy of Ghishing.

Secretary of the GJM Yuva Morcha, Sudeep Gurung, said "People will never accept Ghishing. He was solely responsible for spoiling the future of an entire generation. And, just when we are trying to give the generation a better future, he is again trying to destroy it."

Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist General Secretary R B Rai, warned, "The hills may be on fire any time if the Centre and the state do not immediately end the GJM`s
anarchy and restore some resemblance of law here".

The Akhil Bharitiya Gorkha League, the region`s oldest party, said it was disappointed both with the GJM and the state.
"Our leader Madan Tamang was murdered partly because he opposed the interim set up. The long-pending statehood issue needs to be solved politically," ABGL working president Dawa Sherpa told reporters.

Expressing unhappiness over the government calling only the GJM for tripartite meetings, he said, "All stakeholders including the ABGL should be called to the
meeting. Why only GJM? All political parties in the hills should be invited."
He held that the interim council was not a solution and his party wanted separate state of Gorkhaland.

Asked whether Gorkhaland was possible given the opposition by the mainstream parties in West Bengal, he said "Lalu Prasad also once said that if Jharkhand had to be formed
it would be formed over his dead body."

Both CPI(M) and the Trinamool Congress are opposed to division of the state though the former has accused the latter of having links with GJM.


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