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After the Council

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 13, 2009

There may be no end in sight to the Gorkhaland problem yet. But the Union government’s agreement “in principle” to scrapping the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act 1988 is a promise of movement. The DGHC has been seen to be a comprehensive failure. It was the West Bengal government’s tool to buy peace with Subash Ghising’s Gorkha National Liberation Front and neutralise the violent statehood agitation of the ’80s. Ghising, however, did not deliver to the people, as his authoritarianism increased and allegations of corruption piled up. Elections were not held to the council for years. Last year’s mobilisation by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha forced Ghising’s resignation from the DGHC.

Equally significant is the decision to drop the bill proposing a Hill Council under the Sixth Schedule. Both Ghising and Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had wanted this bill as it would have given the DGHC greater autonomy and territorial jurisdiction as well as direct Central funds while sparing the chief minister fresh violence. But the GJM changed the plot, and will certainly view Tuesday’s development as a victory of sorts because it saw autonomy under the Sixth Schedule as a further hindrance to statehood. Non-tribals, in majority in the hills, will also rejoice, having been apprehensive of being governed by laws made by tribal councils as per Sixth Schedule requirements.

Source:Indian Express


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