Ghising breaks silence, wants Gorkhaland state

Jalpaiguri: Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subhas Ghising threatened to revive his demand for separate Gorkhaland on Friday if the Centre and the West Bengal government went ahead with setting up an interim Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

Ghising, who had first voiced the demand for Gorkhaland and led a violent movement from 1986 to 1988 before settling for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), also said that he would shortly return to Darjeeling hills — from where he was driven out by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in 2008 — as the situation had improved there.

Without naming the GJM, which has proposed an interim DGHC to replace the present one to run the administration in the hills, Ghising said the setting up of the interim council would be a ‘disaster’. He said that he has submitted a memorandum to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in this regard.

In his memorandum to Gandhi, Ghising 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, the 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, Ghising 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, Ghising said the Central and 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 governments should not under any circumstances whatsoever go against the earlier decision of the 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 Chidambaram on February 18 which spelt out the stand of the GNLF, 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 was opposed by the people of Darjeeling.

Ghising, who have been living in Jalpaiguri since his ouster from the Hills, said: “We will return shortly. I am not announcing the date.”