Shinde and Gurung (right) in New Delhi on Thursday
Darjeeling, Jan. 10: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation has told the Union home minister in Delhi that a separate state of Gorkhaland must be formed if the Centre decides to form Telangana.
The hill leaders have also said that if the Centre fails to do so, the Morcha will have no alternative but to launch an agitation.
“We have made it clear that Gorkhaland must be formed if Telangana is created. Otherwise, we will have no option but to launch an agitation in the region,” Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said over the phone from Delhi.
The Morcha delegation comprised party president Bimal Gurung and senior leaders Giri, Binay Tamang and Jyoti Kumar Rai.
The response of home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde was not immediately known.
Giri said the delegation also demanded that the special central assistance of Rs 200 crore per annum for three years to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration must be increased and it should cover more years.
“We have demanded that the amount should be increased to Rs 400 crore and the duration must be increased to 10 years instead of three years,” Giri said.
The Rs 200 crore assistance was agreed upon when the Centre, the state and the Morcha signed the memorandum of agreement on the GTA July 18, 2011.
Other demands raised by the Morcha include the extending the benefits of the North East council to the GTA, relaxation in age and qualification for recruitment of “GTA Youths” (Gorkhaland Personnel) and granting of backward region status to the GTA area.
The leaders also demanded the transfer of reserved forests to the GTA and granting of Scheduled Tribe status to all hill communities except the Scheduled Castes.
Observers in the hills believe that Morcha’s threat to start an agitation is out of compulsion.
“They have realised that if Telangana is formed, they cannot lie low and tell people that they are committed to Gorkhaland and that the GTA is only a stepping stone for statehood,” said an observer.