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Morcha ire over delay in pardon
- 382 cases await withdrawal

Darjeeling, Feb. 27: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is peeved over the state government’s delay in withdrawing 382 cases filed against party activists during the four-year statehood agitation and the issue could become another flashpoint between the hill party and the government.

“The cases have to be withdrawn as it was agreed upon by the state government. During a review meeting on the GTA held in Delhi on December 26, state home secretary Basudeb Banerjee had told the (review) committee that 150 cases would be withdrawn within 10 days. The same has also been recorded in the minutes of the meeting, a copy of which is with us,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.

Asked if the Morcha would write to the state government to expedite the withdrawal process, Giri said: “There is no need for us to write as the government should honour the agreement.”

The state government by virtue of being one of the signatories to the Memorandum of Agreement for the formation of the GTA had agreed to withdraw the cases it had filled against Morcha workers.

Clause 29 of the MoA signed on July 18, 2011, reads: “A review will be done by the State Government of all the cases registered under various laws against persons involved in the GJM agitation. Steps will be taken in the light of the review, not to proceed with prosecution in all cases except those charged with murder. Release of persons in custody will follow the withdrawal of cases.”

Administrative sources said none of the 382 cases filed by the state against Morcha supporters have been withdrawn.

According to sources, the Darjeeling district police had compiled a list in November 2012 and sent it to the state government for necessary action.

“Officials staying in Darjeeling cannot say why the cases have not been withdrawn. It is a decision that has to be taken at Writer’s,” a district official said in Darjeeling.

“One cannot set a deadline for these things. It takes time. But we are working on it. The process is on,” said a senior home department official said in Calcutta this evening.

“I cannot say by when, but over a hundred cases are likely to be dropped,” he added.

Morcha supporters were booked by the government for blocking highways, gheraoing government offices and police stations during the statehood agitation.

Gorkhaland Personnel, raised by the Morcha, were charged for controlling crowds and traffic during the hill party’s public meetings. The squad members, who had invited criticism for taking up the role of moral police during the agitation, were booked for wearing uniforms resembling the country’s armed forces and setting up camps on government premises.

Morcha supporters were accused of setting houses of workers of rival parties on fire and stopping them from returning to the hills.

“There are two categories of cases. The first category has cases filed by the government against the agitators. The second category has cases filed by individuals and Opposition leaders against Morcha activists. The government can only withdraw the cases it has filed but would have no say in the cases filed by individuals,” said a source.

Morcha leaders from the plains, especially the Terai and Dooars, have recently complained to the party’s central committee that the police were intimidating its workers citing earlier cases.

Shankar Adhikari, president of the Morcha’s Terai and Siliguri subdivisional committee while addressing a gathering at the Gymkhana Club on Monday said: “I received a call from the police station in the plains and the officers indirectly threatened me and other leaders for taking part in Morcha’s activities. They said I was booked in 17 cases during the (four year- statehood) agitation and my involvement with the Morcha would not be in my interest.”

District police chief Kunal Aggarwal could not be contacted as he is in Patna to attend the All India Police Science Congress.