Ghisingh Threatens to Revive Gorkhaland Demand
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 13, 2010
Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghisingh today threatened to revive his demand for a separate Gorkhaland if the Centre and the West Bengal government went ahead with setting up an interim Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
Without naming the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which drove him out of Darjeeling in 2008 and proposed an interim DGHC to replace the present one to run the administration in the hills, Ghisingh said that it would be a ‘disaster’ and that he has submitted a memorandum to Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Ghisingh, who had first raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and led a violent movement from 1986 to 1988 before settling for the establishment of the DGHC, in his memorandum to Gandhi pointed to the tripartite Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) on Sixth Schedule status to the DGHC signed in Kolkata between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GNLF (Gorkha National Liberation Front) in December 2005.
Under the Sixth Schedule, DGHC was to get more powers similar to those enjoyed by the Autonomous District Councils of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.
Noting that the Sixth Schedule Bill may have lapsed in Parliament, Ghisingh said, “but it is not dead and can be resurrected.”
Urging Gandhi’s intervention, he urged her to take “bold steps for re-introducing and passing the Sixth Schedule Bill 107 of 2007 for amendment of Article 244(2) of the Constitution with certain suitable changes or modification.”
Talking to reporters here, Ghisingh said the central and West Bengal governments should also not go against the official resolution on the Sixth Schedule passed by the West Bengal assembly on March 16, 2006.
“Both the Central and the state government should not under any circumstances whatsoever go against the earlier decision of the West Bengal assembly by bringing another resolution which is less than the Sixth Schedule,” he said.
Noting that he had handed over a letter to Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram on February 18 which spelt out GNLF’s stand, he said there was doubt in the minds of the people of Darjeeling whether the Central or state government would “uphold and honour the MoS of 2005 in letter and spirit or go against their own commitments”.
He also claimed that the interim DGHC proposed by the Centre and on which tripartite talks were being held currently with the GJM and the West Bengal government was opposed by the people of Darjeeling.
Maintaining that the situation was better in the hills, he said he would return there shortly. “We will return shortly. I am not announcing the date.”
The insistence of Ghisingh for Sixth Schedule status for the hills had caused him to fall out with his then close aide, Bimal Gurung, who is currently the president of the rival GJM founded in 1987.
The GJM had also demanded Gorkhaland, but had changed its stance and is now demanding an interim DGHC, which would also include areas in the plains in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.