Gorkhatimes

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Gorkha demand

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 27, 2009

“The situation in Darjeeling is unlikely to ease in the near future.”

While the indefinite bundh called by the Gurkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling is about to enter the third week normal life has been badly hit in the region and in Sikkim. There are few signs of the situation easing in the near future. Tripartite talks involving the Centre, the state government and the GJM are scheduled for next month. GJM leader Bimal Gurung has announced that the bandh will be withdrawn only if the talks lead to a solution that satisfies the GJM. This is unlikely because the organization is not ready to accept anything less than full statehood for Darjeeling. The complete sway of the GJM over the area is clear from the success of the bandh. Intimidation and violence are part of its functioning. The state government has been a helpless observer and its writ hardly runs in Darjeeling. West Bengal number plates on motor vehicles have been replaced with GL (Gorkhaland) numbers, state government offices have been closed down and taxes are not being paid. The GJM is instead collecting the taxes.

The Centre has ruled out statehood for Darjeeling. The state government has never considered the option. There is no case either for the demand. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that the Centre is willing to grant the status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to Darjeeling hills. This will give more autonomy to the administration of the hills. But there is no wide agreement even on this because it will trigger similar demands from many other regions. In any case the GJM will not accept the offer. Therefore it is doubtful whether the proposed talks will achieve any positive results.

The state government has to take much of the blame for the situation to come to such a pass. It allowed it to drift when Subhash Ghising was cut to size by the more militant GJM. The BJP entered into a deal with the GJM by promising to support the statehood demand in return for the organisation’s backing for senior leader Jaswant Singh from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. Jaswant Singh won and the party is vocally supporting the statehood demand. In the process it is seen as condoning the violent and lawless ways of the GJM. It is a sorry spectacle: the people are held to ransom, the Central and state governments are unable to help them and the main opposition party is irresponsibly stoking the fire.

Source:The Deccan Herald

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