Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ghisingh a poison: Gurung - Making most of the 12-hour relief

Siliguri, Feb. 27: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today warned the Bengal government and the Centre that there would be bloodshed if the Sixth Schedule bill is passed in Parliament and the special status “thrust forcibly on the hills”.

Around 30km away, at Panighata in Naxalbari block, six policemen were injured when Morcha and GNLF supporters hurled stones at each other. One of them was shifted to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.

“The state and Centre have already committed mistakes by not talking to the common man before drafting the Sixth Schedule bill. This created tension and if the status is conferred forcibly, we apprehend bloodshed,” Gurung told journalists at Dagapur on the outskirts of Siliguri. He arrived there at 11.30am to meet the 31 Morcha supporters who are on an indefinite hunger strike.

The Morcha president appreciated the state’s decision to send him a written invitation for the talks held at Writers’ Buildings this evening. He, however, said Subash Ghisingh would not be allowed entry to the hills even if the two demands — his removal from the post of caretaker administrator of the DGHC and scrapping of the Sixth Schedule bill — were met by the state and the Centre.

“Ghisingh has turned out to be a poison for the hills,” the Morcha leader said before heading for Bagdogra to board a flight for Calcutta, where, however, no decision was reached today. Shanta Chhetri, the MLA from Kurseong, I.N. Pradhan, Deepak Gurung, Gopimaya Gurung and Dawa Pakhrin are some of the other GNLF leaders blacklisted by the Morcha.

“We will not allow them entry into our party at any cost. As for Shanta Chhetri, she is the Phulan Devi of the hills,” Gurung said. He, however, invited the GNLF MLA of Darjeeling, Pranay Rai, to join the Morcha. A few days ago, Rai had proposed a referendum on the Sixth Schedule to find out the people’s opinion.

Although the Morcha president lauded the chief minister’s proposal, he cautioned that the next plan of action would be decided only after the meeting. “The bandh has been relaxed for 12 hours today but the hunger strike will continue till our demands are met.”

“There is no question of compromising,” Gurung asserted. “Moreover, we don’t want urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya to be present at the meeting.” The minister, however, was not there. Bhattacharya’s comment that the Morcha had resorted to “rowdism” and had brought outsiders to create trouble in Siliguri had angered the Morcha.