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Questions to counter govt query – Morcha chalks out strategy for August 11 talks

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 1, 2009

Bimal Gurung

Darjeeling, July 31: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said it was its turn this time to question the central and state governments — instead of answering their “why Gorkhaland” query — at the tripartite meeting on August 11.

The strategy was formulated at a three-day session of the Morcha’s Study Forum in Kalimpong.

“We have been demanding a political-level meeting but the government thinks that there should be another round of talks at the secretary-level. We think we have submitted enough documents in favour of Gorkhaland. Since they are harping on a secretary-level talks, we have decided to ask them ‘why not Gorkhaland?’ instead of speaking on statehood ourselves,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the spokesperson of the Morcha.

Apart from nine members of the forum, various “apolitical people” also attended the session that ended today.

Since the Morcha has decided to make the governments speak their mind, the forum also concentrated on probable questions that the hill delegation might face. “The letter from the state government inviting us to the tripartite talks mentions that the agenda will be on Gorkhaland and its implications. We are largely concentrating on the ‘implication’ aspect and expect to be questioned on it,” said Chhetri.

The Morcha also believes that the “implications” could even mean the discussion of the Indo-Nepal Friendship Treaty of 1950. According to this treaty, all Indian and Nepalese citizens can move about freely in each other’s country and even buy and sell properties. Pro-Gorkhaland supporters feel that since the citizens of the neighbouring country often come over to this side, the Nepali-speaking population of India faces an identity crisis.

Another area that Bimal Gurung’s Morcha wants to highlight is national security. Jaswant Singh, the BJP MP from Darjeeling, while raising the Gorkhaland issue in Parliament, had maintained that a separate state would strengthen national security. “This is the only district in the country that is surrounded by four international borders. While it shares borders with Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, it is merely 12km away from China,” Singh had told Parliament.

“Jaswant Singh has already talked about national interest and this could be another aspect that could come up for discussion,” said Chhetri.

The Morcha said Delhi had not understood the significance of the statehood demand and the importance of the location of the Darjeeling hills. “This area is still an obscure place as far as the Centre is concerned,” said Chhetri.

Going by its general strategy, the Morcha will not be submitting any documents this time. The members, however, will be equipped with data concerning the socio-economic problems of the region. This would be largely to negate any arguments by the state that the government has done enough for the development in the region.

The forum is scheduled to meet once again in Darjeeling on August 6 to fine-tune the strategy before the third round of the talks.

Source:The Telegraph


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