The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Booklet shock for hill rivals

Darjeeling, Jan. 22: The GNLF has started distributing thousands of copies of the memorandum of settlement on the Sixth Schedule status for the hills, in a move that has caught the Opposition by surprise.

Earlier, the People's Democratic Front (PDF) ' the anti-Subash Ghisingh coalition in the hills ' was vitriolic in its attack on the GNLF for keeping the contents of the tripartite agreement a secret.

The PDF had alleged that the settlement was being kept hidden from the public eye, as the GNLF had very little to show by way of achievements.

So when the 15-page booklet, distributed free of cost along with a vernacular daily yesterday, flooded Darjeeling and even Siliguri, the Opposition came in for a nasty shock.

Today, too, many people received copies of the settlement.

Deepak Gurung, president, GNLF Darjeeling branch committee, admitted that his party was distributing the booklets.

'It is being done by the party and I too have just now received a copy of the settlement,' he said.

When asked why the booklets were being so widely circulated, the leader said the idea was to enlighten the common people on the 'historic settlement'.

The tripartite agreement involving Ghisingh, the state and the Centre has given the hill areas an autonomous, self-governing authority under the Sixth Schedule. The new entity is to be called Gorkha Hill Council, Darjeeling. However, the Centre has to amend Article 244 of the Constitution to include the new council in the Sixth Schedule, which is currently applicable only to the northeastern states.

It was learnt that the decision to distribute the copies of the settlement was taken by Ghisingh himself.

Therefore, it came as no surprise when GNLF leaders could not clarify as to why the booklet was not simultaneously published in the language of the common people, that is Nepali.

The booklets with the Government of India seal with the Ashok Lions on them do not have either the printer's or the party's name.

GNLF Branch Committee leaders were unaware of these details and did not even know how many copies had been actually printed. This only proved that the move was a one-man show.

D.S. Bomzom, the spokesperson for the CPRM ' a member of the PDF ' was critical of the GNLF's move.

'They have the audacity to publish a settlement, which has nothing for the common man. Ghisingh is only trying to hoodwink the masses and create an illusion, that something great has happened, by coming up with such nicely decorated booklets. This only shows how much the GNLF underestimates the common people.'

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