Friday, March 07, 2008

Morcha ready for ‘last war’ in hills

New Delhi, March 6:
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has warned that if its demands go unheeded, the movement for Gorkhaland might spiral into something more than a call for statehood.

“This (the demand for Gorkhaland) is our last war,” Morcha president Bimal Gurung told in an interview.

Gurung, who met a host of political leaders, including UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, here today, said the “Bengal government should utilise the community living in the hills” and in return, give it its due.

“We have been staying in a sensitive zone for years. Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh and China border our land and for more than 100 years, we have been guarding Mother India. Now is the time for a correct decision, otherwise there might be problems later.”

Having started the agitation for Gorkhaland afresh, almost two decades after the GNLF led by Subash Ghisingh had launched it in the eighties, the Morcha leader hinted that the call for something “beyond statehood” might not be far away if the current demand is ignored. He, however, refused to elaborate on “beyond statehood”.

Ghisingh, who later settled for autonomy under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) and more recently for Sixth Schedule status for the hills, has been branded a traitor by the Morcha. Gurung’s party has been against the special status, the bill on which was stalled in the Lok Sabha after a parliamentary panel recommended a review. As things stand now, the bill is most likely to be withdrawn.

Sources in the Morcha delegation, which met Sonia and Opposition leader L.K. Advani, said they believe that the Centre might not push for the Sixth Schedule bill.

Ghisingh continued to be holed up in Siliguri after his return from Delhi today,

The GNLF chief, who has been shut out of Darjeeling by the Morcha, however, promised to return to the hills after stepping down as caretaker administrator of the DGHC on Monday.

“The old Subash Ghisingh will then be back in the hills as a common man, spearheading the statehood movement,” he said.