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Doubts over status hearing

Darjeeling, Feb. 1: Confusion prevails over the parliamentary standing committee’s scheduled visit to the Darjeeling hills to conduct a hearing on the Sixth Schedule status.

Opposition parties in the hills claim that the Standing Committee on Home Affairs is not coming here at all and put the blame on the Bengal government.

“Till yesterday morning, one of the standing committee members with whom I am in touch maintained that they would be coming. However, this morning, I came to know that they would not be making it. This is because the state government has said there is law and order problem in the hills, which is untrue,” said Madan Tamang, the president of the ABGL, an important opposition outfit in the hills.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, too, sent a fax to Sushma Swaraj, the chairperson of the standing committee, and Vice President Hamid Ansari, protesting against the cancellation of the panel’s three-day visit to Darjeeling from February 6.

“So far as I know, the committee members will visit Siliguri as scheduled,” Bengal chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb said at Writers’ Buildings today.

However, Rahul Sinha, the state general secretary of the BJP, said: “Sushma Swaraj told me in Delhi that she will not go to Siliguri on February 6 because she is down with a viral fever.” Sinha did not comment on the plans of the other members of the committee.

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