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DGHC dead, now state: Morcha – Gurung’s party not worried about interim arrangement

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 14, 2009

Darjeeling, Aug. 13: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today claimed that either statehood or Union Territory status would have to be conferred on the Darjeeling hills, now that a decision has been taken to drop the Sixth Schedule bill and scrap the DGHC.

The consensus to repeal the DGHC Act and abandon the bill which would have given the hills a special status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have put an end to the possibility of an autonomous body, the Morcha believes.

“This means that the only option is either a Union Territory or a state status,” said Anmole Prasad at a media conference at the Gymkhana Club here today. Prasad was the spokesperson for the 12-member delegation that came back today after attending the tripartite talks in Delhi on Tuesday. The state and central governments were the other two participants in the talks.

The Morcha said it was not bothered about the interim arrangement. “We are not too worried about the set-up as it is necessary to fill the administrative vacuum once the DGHC goes. However, we will ensure that the 7,000 temporary workers do not lose out. They will be protected,” Prasad said. “Whatever agreement was reached at the August 11 meeting, the demand for statehood has not been diluted.”

Fearing an uncertain future after it became clear that the DGHC would be dissolved soon, the contractual workers yesterday under the banner of the Janmukti Asthahi Karmachari Sangathan reasserted their demand for permanent jobs.

The delegation alleged that the two representatives of the Bengal government, chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti and home secretary Ardhendu Sen had tried to “tarnish” the Morcha image before the Union home secretary, G.K Pillai. “They brought up the issue of Gorkhaland Personnel cracking down on liquor, drug and timber smugglers as well as stopping traffic to Sikkim along NH31A. But we could convince the central government representatives that we, as citizens, had every right to clamp down on illegal activities and the blockade of the highway was a compulsion not a deliberate act.”

The party has also welcomed the appointment of an interlocutor. “As the interval between the tripartite talks is more than four to six months (the second round was held in December), the appointment of an interlocutor was necessary. Through him negotiations could be speeded up.” However, the Morcha leadership conceded that the statehood demand would have to be met only through talks at the political level and through consensus in Parliament, hinting that the fourth round of talks on December 21 here would also be held at the secretary- level.

After arriving here from Bagdogra around 5.30pm, the delegation met Morcha president Bimal Gurung for about an hour. Gurung did not attend the media conference.

Morcha leader Amar Lama said the central committee would meet on August 17.



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