Gorkhatimes

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Alternate framework mooted for Darjeeling Hills

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 11, 2009

IANS

New Delhi, Aug 11 (IANS) The centre, the West Bengal government and representatives of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), at their tripartite talks here Tuesday, agreed in principle to do away with the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and set up an alternative framework.

“It was agreed in principle to the repeal of the DGHC Act, 1988. The repeal of the Act would be processed as soon as an alternative administrative framework is finalised through mutual consultations and agreement,” said a home ministry statement.

“The government announced the appointment of an interlocutor to carry

forward the discussions held during the third round of tripartite talks and both the

state government and the GJM welcomed the same,” said a ministry official.

The GJM has been spearheading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state, led by its president Bimal Gurung. The organisation has been mobilising a movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district.

The central government in 2005 conferred the Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) that ensures greater autonomy to the governing body. The area has been witnessing violence on the issue for the last two years

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF.

The talks were held between Home Secretary G.K.Pillai, the West Bengal delegation led by Chief Secretary A.K.Chakrabarty and the GJM delegation by Anmole Prasad.

“The GJM assured that a peaceful and conducive atmosphere would be

maintained and all the parties agreed to work in a spirit of constructive

cooperation to carry the talks forward,” said an official.

As an interim measure and to restore the democratic process, it was decided that elections would be held to the panchayat samitis, the gram panchayats and the municipalities.

It was also decided that an unutilised sum of Rs 700 million that was part of the central assistance would be put to use.

The last tripartite meeting between the three sides took place on December 29 last year where it was decided to take forward the talks after the Lok Sabha polls.

The next tripartite meeting would be held on December 21 this year at Darjeeling.

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