The Telegraph
Saturday , December 1 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Govt set to withdraw 382 hill cases
- Darjeeling police complete formalities to drop charges against Morcha members

Darjeeling, Nov. 30: The Darjeeling police have completed the formalities of withdrawing all 382 cases filed by the state government against Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters during the course of the party’s four-year-old agitation for statehood.

An agreement signed by the Centre, state and the Morcha on July 18, 2011 had provided for the review and the withdrawal of the cases registered by the government during the agitation.

The process of withdrawing the cases was expedited following the meeting between a Morcha delegation and home secretary Basudeb Banerjee in Calcutta recently.

“We have completed the formalities for the withdrawal of cases and the list will be forwarded to the home department tomorrow,” Kunal Aggarwal, the superintendent of police of Darjeeling, told The Telegraph today.

Although Aggarwal refused to divulge the details of the list, sources said 382 cases had been listed for withdrawal. They said the Morcha was upset with the delay in quashing the charges against the supporters though more than a year had passed since the agreement was signed.

“The Morcha raised the issue during a meeting between a delegation of the party and home secretary Basudeb Banerjee in Calcutta last week. Later, senior Darjeeling police officers were summoned to Calcutta and asked to complete the formalities for the withdrawal of the cases speedily,” said a source.

Sources said the cases would be construed as withdrawn once the home department gave the nod.

This is the second instance of the government taking proactive action in the past few days in assuaging the Morcha’s feelings. The home secretary had come to Darjeeling on Monday and held discussions with elected members of the GTA Sabha on the delay in the transfer of 57 subjects to the hill body from the state government. The meeting appeared to have ended confusion over the transfer process with Banerjee clarifying that the 57 subjects had been clubbed into 40 departments and 27 had already been shifted to the GTA.

Asked about the cases, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “We have been told (at the Calcutta meeting) that the cases would be withdrawn soon and we are keeping a close watch on the developments.”

The Morcha supporters were booked by the government for blocking highways and besieging government offices and police stations. Cases were also slapped on members of Gorkhaland Personnel — the lathi-wielding voluntary force raised by the Morcha purportedly to control public and traffic during the party’s public meetings.

The GLP 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 also for setting up camps at government properties.

During the four-year long agitation, the Morcha supporters were also accused of burning down the houses of rival parties and stopping them from returning to the hills. Even today, many leaders of the GNLF are still holed up in the plains as they can’t return home because of the Morcha’s alleged terror tactics.

The Morcha members also face cases filed by individuals. Police sources, however, made it clear that the government was not in a position to withdraw such cases.

“The Morcha supporters face charges in two types of cases. The cases registered by the government against the agitators come in the first category. The second type of cases are those filed by individuals and opposition leaders. While the government can withdraw the cases it had registered, it will have no say in the cases filed by the opposition leaders or individuals against the Morcha supporters,” said the source.

“There are no such provisions in the legal system of the country,” he added.