Sunday, December 09, 2007

Demand for Gorkhaland if Bill not cleared

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Demand for Gorkhaland if Bill not cleared
Statesman News Service

SILIGURI, Dec. 7: The Gorkha National Liberation Front has resolved to revive the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in case the Centre failed to clear the Darjeeling Sixth Schedule Bill in the next session of Parliament.

The resolution was adopted at the GNLF's branch committee meetings, held simultaneously in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik today. While the meeting in Darjeeling held was presided over by the branch committee president, Mr Deepak Gurung, at Kurseong, Kalimpong and Mirik the meetings were chaired by Mr Indra Narayan Pradhan, Mr Dawa Pakhrin and Mr LB Rai, respectively.

“All the branch committees have unanimously resolved to serve the Centre an ultimatum for it to clear the Bill in the next session of the Parliament, failing which, the GNLF would revive the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state,” Mr Deepak Gurung said.

Accusing the Centre of backtracking from the in-principle agreement, Mr Gurung said: “By signing the tripartite memorandum of settlement in December 2005, the Centre had committed to grant the Darjeeling hills a Constitutional guarantee under the Sixth Schedule.
“If it fails to live up to the agreement two years later, it should stay prepared to face the Gorkhaland agitation once again.”

A delegation of the GNLF branch committee leaders is scheduled to meet the party supremo Mr Subash Ghishing tomorrow, to apprise him of the unanimous decision.

“We are confident that Mr Ghishing would also put his seal on the decision,” Mr Gurung said. Although placed in the winter session of the Parliament that concluded today, the Union government failed to ratify the Bill as the BJP declined to back it without a thorough discussion.

The Bill has now been referred to a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which is expected to visit Darjeeling late this month to assess public opinion on the proposed Sixth Schedule status.