The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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GNLF threat to 'exposure' meetings

Darjeeling, Dec. 18: The GNLF has warned the Opposition against holding public meetings in Darjeeling as such gatherings would only 'vitiate the peaceful atmosphere' of the hills.

The party has further maintained that it should not be held responsible for any untoward incident. The threat comes after the ABGL, a PDF member, announced that it would be holding a public meeting at Chowk Bazar on December 23 to 'expose' the GNLF's 'victory claims'.

Deepak Gurung, the president of the GNLF Darjeeling Branch Committee, said: 'We want the administration to know that such useless bantering will only foul the peaceful atmosphere in Darjeeling. There could also be a law and order problem and in such an event, the GNLF should not be held responsible.'

The threat is of serious concern as earlier, on September 16, the GNLF had brought in hundreds of supporters to Chowk Bazar to stall a meeting of the PDF, the anti-Ghisingh coalition in the hills. The PDF had cancelled the meeting at the last minute to avoid 'unnecessary violence'.

Madan Tamang, president of the ABGL, however, said his party would go ahead with the December-23 meeting. 'Why should we be scared of their threats' We will go ahead with our meeting as scheduled,' Tamang, who is also the chairman of the PDF, said.

In the past, the GNLF had adopted tactical measures like calling a general strike in the area where the Opposition party was supposed to hold a public meeting to derail the PDF's Operation Exposure.

During the period of Opposition campaign, around four months ago, the GNLF supporters had also attacked a member of the Opposition party at Bijanbari. 'We had, however, carried on with our protest programme then and will do so this time too. It is the democratic right of every political party to hold public meetings. It is for the administration to take care of the law and order problem,' said Tamang.

The ABGL maintained that the threat only indicated that Ghisingh has failed to fulfil many of his promises. 'Have you seen the draft' It is only the shadow of the Sixth Schedule. I want to tell the people how Ghisingh has betrayed the faith of the hill people. The draft clearly states that he would not be allowed to raise further demands. Isn't this a humiliation' he said.

The ABGL also maintained that the public should be clearly told the reason behind the GNLF leader's haste in signing the settlement without being fully satisfied with its contents.

'He himself has said he has not fully understood the Sixth Schedule and that he was ready to accept anything the Centre and state were offering. We want to know what were the reasons behind Ghisingh's eagerness to sign the pact under such circumstances,' said Tamang.

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