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ABGL pressure on talks team

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 10, 2009

Darjeeling, Aug. 9: Two days before the third round of tripartite meeting between the state, Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the ABGL has reminded the hill delegates that nothing “less than separation from Bengal” would be accepted.

The ABGL reminder is expected to put pressure on the 12-member Morcha team so that it discusses only the statehood demand and refrains from exploring alternative arrangements which the state and Centre may suggest during the August 11 meeting.

“It is time for the people to stand united and strong and refrain from accepting any other arrangements. We must accept nothing less than separation from Bengal,” said ABGL president Madan Tamang. He tried to dispel the “myth” that the Gorkhaland demand was an outcome of the people’s aspiration for a separate identity.

Political parties, which have spearheaded the Gorkhaland movement — the GNLF and the Morcha — had argued that a new state was needed to distinguish between the citizens of Nepal from the Nepali-speaking Indian population.

“This is not a movement for identity but for existence ,” said Tamang, adding that development was not possible as long as the hills were part of Bengal.

Elaborating on the “existence” theory, Tamang said there is a genuine fear of the Nepali people getting “swamped” by the dominant population of the state.

“The 1872 census showed that there were less than 100 Bengali people in the Darjeeling district. The 1941 census revealed the number of Nepali speaking people in the district was 94 per cent. However, the growth rate of Bengali speaking population was 63 per cent between 1951 and 61 and at the same period the growth rate of people who spoke Hindi stood at 67 per cent. At that time, the Nepali speaking people stood at 14 per cent.

“Even the Montley-Chelmsford report of 1917 said the hills should be given a separate administrative set-up,” said Tamang.

The ABGL also appealed to political leaders to be “transparent and to tell the truth about developments in Delhi”. “Jaswant Singh should tell us the truth. Those who lie will face a fate similar to Subash Ghisingh,” said Tamang.

The Morcha team had earlier said it would discuss the talks strategy with Singh, the BJP MP from Darjeeling.

Source:The Telegraph


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