Monday, 30th October 2017

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Hills happy but for a protest 'Rebel' leader calls for Gorkhaland

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By VIVEK CHHETRI in Darjeeling
  • Published 1.10.07

Darjeeling, Oct. 1: Bimal Gurung, one of the most powerful GNLF leaders here, said the hills should accept “nothing short of Gorkhaland” even as the special status bill today received cabinet approval in New Delhi.

Gurung holds sway over much of Darjeeling subdivision and his decision to oppose the Sixth Schedule “tooth and nail” does not augur well for Subash Ghisingh, who arrived in Calcutta today.

“If he (Ghisingh) cannot do it (demand Gorkhaland), then we will. The youths are ready to ask for statehood. We do not want anyone to come in between us and our goal. Nothing has been done in the past 20 years (after the DGHC was formed),” said Gurung.

On December 6, 2005, Ghisingh had signed a tripartite agreement in New Delhi that promised to give the hills an autonomous, self-governing authority under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

It was at Vah-Tukvar — Gurung’s stronghold — that Ghisingh first announced on January 1, 2005 that it was time to “dump the DGHC in a garage” (in favour of the new status). In fact, Gurung had played a major role in organising a grand picnic at Happy New Year Bridge there at that time.

In a message to Ghisingh, who is now the caretaker administrator of the council, Gurung said: “Let us see what he (Ghisingh) has to say about the demand. I am ready to surrender the flag (of the GNLF) that was given to us in 1986. I have ironed the flag and kept it along with my resignation letter,” said Gurung.

He had in fact offered his resignation almost eight months ago after apparently getting “disillusioned with the way the party was functioning” but Ghisingh had refused to accept it. This time Gurung said he is ready to do anything for the sake of Gorkhaland.

”We accepted the council in 1988 but now we realise that it means nothing. We are now speaking of Sixth Schedule but no one knows what it is all about. We are increasingly feeling that the solution lies in Gorkhaland,” he said.

Gurung, who is supposed to enjoy one of the strongest organisational strengths among the GNLF leaders, however, added that he would avoid “a bloody agitation”.

“Demands can be fulfilled in a democratic manner and we will take recourse to such paths,” he added.

The GNLF leader also said all “new faces” would be welcome to join his movement. “It is time the youths to come out in the open,” he said.