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Morcha seeks hill panel visit

Darjeeling, Dec. 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has demanded that the three-member fact-verification committee, constituted to look into the the party’s territory grievances, be asked to conduct a spot visit before its places its report before the government.

The demand was placed by the Morcha at the review committee meeting with Centre and state representatives in New Delhi today.

A field visit — an exercise that was not conducted before the Justice Shyamal Sen Committee filed its report — is unlikely to be conceded by the state government.

The Sen committee had recommended inclusion in the GTA of only five of the 396 mouzas demanded by the Morcha. Following the Morcha’s protest against the report, the three-member committee was formed to look into the grievances of the hill party.

“The visit is important to understand the ground realities,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha who was at the meeting. The other Morcha representative was Trilok Dewan, the Darjeeling MLA.

The state government was represented by home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, while the Centre was represented by additional secretary (home) S.K. Skandan, Giri said over phone from Delhi.

The party has also demanded an increase in the Centre’s special package to the GTA, speedy transfer of departments, inclusion of all Gorkha communities in the ST list and the need for a Constitutional amendment for introducing a three-tier panchayat system in the hills.

“We have demanded that the Rs 200 crore special package from the Centre be increased to Rs 400 per annum,” Giri said. “We also raised the demand for transferring the reserve forest to the GTA,” said Giri.

The state government has also assured the Morcha that over 150 cases initiated by the government against Morcha supporters would be withdrawn within “10 days”. “Basudeba Banerjee has assured that the transfer of all departments would be completed by December 31,” Giri said.