Morcha yes to hill stand-in - Interlocutor meets CM at Writers'

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 1.12.09
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Kalimpong/Calcutta, Nov. 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said any interim administrative arrangement would have to include the Dooars on a day the interlocutor appointed by the Union home ministry to facilitate the fourth round of talks stepped into Writers’ Buildings for the first time.

Lieutenant-General (retired) Vijay Madan, the interlocutor, met the state chief and home secretaries and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to get a grasp of the ongoing problem in the Darjeeling hills.

Up in the hills, the Morcha said it was willing to accept an interim administration in place of the DGHC, but only if the new arrangement meets three of its conditions.

The party’s revelation comes after it was put under the scanner by ABGL president Madan Tamang who alleged that the Morcha was settling for an alternative to the DGHC and scuttling the demand for a separate state. Tamang’s allegation has raised the political discourse to a fever pitch in the hills in the run up to the fourth round of tripartite talks scheduled in Darjeeling on December 21.

Clarifying the party stand, Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said the three primary conditions for the interim arrangement were: it must cover the entire Darjeeling district and parts of the Dooars and Terai; it must be time-bound; and it should be more powerful than autonomy granted under the Sixth Schedule.

“Except for the judiciary and law and order, all financial and legislative powers that will enable us to form rules and regulations, should be completely detached from the state government,” he added.

The party, Chhetri said, would use the interim arrangement to secure the geographical boundary of the Gorkha state it has been demanding. The Morcha “map” shows “Gorkhaland” extending from the Mechi river in the west to Sankosh in the east. “Once the DGHC act is repealed, the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad will also have to be abolished. The entire district will then have to come under the interim arrangement,” he added.

Chhetri said any interim set-up that does not include these three conditions would remain a non-starter. “However, the interim arrangement will be the least of our focus during the talks. Instead, we will be driving hard on the Gorkhaland issue. People should not fall prey to the falsehood being spread by the stooges of the state government,” he added.

In Calcutta, Madan said he had come to meet senior state officials and the chief minister. “I am a soldier and believe that there is a solution to every problem,” he added.

Asked if the “problem” would be an easy one to tackle, the interlocutor said: “There are areas that are black and white and grey ones as well. We all have to tackle that. Your chief minister is a man of great intellect and a gentleman. The people representing the movement in the hills are also all nice persons.”

Madan will meet governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi tomorrow and visit Darjeeling the next day. “I will submit a report to Delhi on December 4,” he said. Chief secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said he could not comment on his interaction with the interlocutor, as it was a “sensitive” issue.