Morcha maps demand- CM rebuffs statehood cry, roots for council revision

Calcutta/Darjeeling, May 22: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders today met Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings in Calcutta over their demand for Gorkhaland and handed him a map of the proposed area of the new state.
“We submitted a memorandum demanding a separate land for the Gorkhas. We also handed over a proposed map of Gorkhaland to the chief minister and requested him to arrange for a tripartite meeting in Delhi to discuss the issue as the hill people are linguistically and culturally different from the rest of Bengal,” said Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri.
The leader was talking to reporters after the one-and-a-half-hour-long meeting. The proposed area on the map includes Darjeeling, Siliguri, the Dooars and Terai.
Bhattacharjee, however, rejected the statehood demand and instead asked the Morcha to sit for talks so that the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act can be strengthened through amendments.
“The chief minister has made it clear that he is willing to have discussions on the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act and was in favour of increasing the autonomy of the body. But he insisted that there was no need of a separate state and said the economic development of Darjeeling was closely associated with Bengal,” said home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti.
According to the home secretary, Bhattacharjee asked the Morcha to steer clear of organisations like the Kamtapur Progressive Party and Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party. Both want Cooch Behar district to be declared a state and are supporting the Morcha in its Gorkhaland demand.
“The chief minister has requested the Morcha general secretary not to have connections with these organisation of north Bengal as the state government does not approve of their activities,” Chakrabarti said.
Bhattacharjee also reacted to the Morcha demand for a separate police force for Gorkhaland and new number plates for vehicles. “A political party cannot demand such things,” he reportedly said.
In Darjeeling, Morcha president Bimal Gurung, who was not in the four-member delegation that met Bhattacharjee, said he would take part in talks only if the Centre was involved. “If we have to write to the Prime Minister or the home minister, we will do so, but the state has to arrange for the tripartite meeting,” Gurung said.
Amar Lama, a central committee member of the Morcha who was part of the delegation, said the chief minister would convene an all-party meeting in Calcutta to discuss the issue. “The hill parties will not be invited to this meeting,” Lama said.
“The chief minister is of the opinion that the inclusion of Siliguri and the Dooars in the Gorkhaland demand is unjustified as most people as well as intellectuals are against the move, but we told him that we, too, have the backing of intellectuals,” Lama said. (The Telegraph)


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