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Morcha protests special status on winter list

Darjeeling, Nov. 15: An upbeat Subash Ghisingh today celebrated the inclusion of the Sixth Schedule bill in the list of business expected to be taken up in the winter session of Parliament.

At the same time, supporters of Bimal Gurung burnt copies of the memorandum of settlement granting special status. Gurung’s party, the newly formed Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, had been opposing the Sixth Schedule, harping instead on Gorkhaland. This has come as a challenge to Ghisingh’s party for whom the Sixth Schedule had been the trump card.

The GNLF distributed copies of the list — Lok Sabha Bulletin Part II, Serial No 4235 — and held meetings with the branch committees of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

“All our members welcomed the initiative of the Union government. They unanimously agreed to drop the proposed 48 hour general strike and all agitation programmes adopted in the last joint meeting of the branch committees on November 2,” said Deepak Gurung, the president of the GNLF’s Darjeeling branch committee.

With the Morcha receiving considerable support since its formation on October 7 because of its pro-Gorkhaland stand, the GNLF desperately wanted the bill to be tabled in the winter session, which started today.

Precisely at 11.19am, Morcha supporters burnt copies of the memorandum of settlement and said they would not accept the Sixth Schedule as it would only divide the Gorkha community into tribals and non-tribals. Supporters of the ABGL and the CPRM also joined hands with the Morcha supporters.

The Morcha president, while addressing a crowd at Chowrastha, launched a vitriolic attack on Ghisingh and warned him not to provoke his supporters. “I am warning you now. You have seen what has happened at Pokhriabong. Do not stop us from demanding Gorkhaland or else we will chase you out,” he said. Supporters of the two parties had clashed in Pokhriabong, 40km from here, last evening.

Morcha leaders claimed that most of the residents there are in favour of the new party.

The former GNLF leader also said listing a bill and getting it passed in the Lok Sabha were two different things.

“We will continue various programmes against the special status and in support of Gorkhaland. If the Sixth Schedule bill is forced on us, there could be bloodshed and the government would be responsible for it,” he said.

The Morcha has decided to organise public meetings at Pokhriabong and Peshok on November 18 and 20 followed by another meeting at Pintail village near Siliguri on December 2. “We will also organise programmes during Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit,” said Gurung.

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