The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New deal with rider
- Ghisingh to sign pact on Tuesday
Asok rules out Siliguri demand

Siliguri, Dec. 4: GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh today said he would sign the memorandum of settlement on the Sixth Schedule status 'under protest', if Siliguri was not brought under its ambit.

On his way to the capital, leading an 11-member GNLF delegation, Ghisingh said Tuesday's meeting (when the MoS would be inked) would correct the 'wrong' of 1988, when the DGHC accord was signed.

Asked if he will sign the settlement even if Siliguri is not brought under the Sixth Schedule status, Ghisingh replied in the affirmative. He, however, said a rider 'the rest of the area under Siliguri subdivision shall remain under protest' ' will be incorporated in the agreement.

The GNLF chief said he firmly believes that all other Gorkha-dominated areas contiguous to the Darjeeling Hills would be granted the special status. 'This has been agreed to by the chief minister of West Bengal earlier... Once the Gorkhas get Sixth Schedule, all of them will automatically get (tribal) status'.

Later, urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said other than the 13 mouzas in the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad area that had originally been included in the DGHC, Sitam in the Kalijhora area would be handed over.

When asked at a news meet about Ghisingh's demand to include Siliguri, the minister said: 'A person is free to make demands, but that does not mean they will be granted.'

Talking to newspersons at Bagdogra airport lounge, 15 km from here, Ghisingh said ideally the Sixth Schedule status should have been granted to the DGHC in 1988.

'I asked Inderjit Khullar, the intermediary, who brokered the 1988 pact, and the state government, but they did not give much importance,' he said.

Detailing the process involved, the GNLF chief said: 'After the signing, a bill will be tabled in Parliament. This will be followed by a Constitution amendment bill, which will have to be passed by a two-thirds majority.'

When asked if he would seek the help of parties other than the constituents of the UPA in this regard, he said he would leave that to the Centre.

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