‘GL’ must for govt cars from Aug. 7: Morcha

Darjeeling, July 31: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced that all government vehicles plying in areas that it considers part of Gorkhaland would have to sport “GL” number plates from August 7 onwards.

“Cars used by the district magistrate, subdivisional officers and the police chief have been exempted,” Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said. According to the Morcha, parts of the Dooars and the Terai along with the hills constitute Gorkhaland.

The decision was taken during a central committee meeting of the Morcha late this evening. The party, however, did not specify the reason behind the exemption extended to the five government officials (there are three hill subdivisions with an SDO for each one of them). Morcha leaders were also silent when asked what they would do if the government vehicles did not “obey” their diktat.

The central committee members of the Morcha have already started sporting “GL” number plates from July 7. While no action has been taken against any of them in the hills till date, a motorcycle owned by Madhukar Thapa, a Morcha leader in the Dooars, was seized by the law enforcers on Tuesday.

The Bengal government seems to have adopted a wait-and-watch policy even though state home secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborti had categorically said sporting “GL” number plates was illegal and would be treated accordingly. As a result, the Morcha attempt to enforce it could lead to serious law and order problems in the hills.

Senior district officials refused comment on the use of “GL” plates and referred to Chakraborti’s statement. A Morcha leader, however, said the party did not expect the police to change the number plates.

The Morcha has also decided to suspend Bishal Chhetri, the president of its Siliguri subdivision unit, for six months for indulging in “anti-party activities”, which the leaders refused to spell out. “We have inducted Bisnu Lama (Dooars), Des Bhakta Subba (Kalimpong) and Francis Dewan (Pedong) into the central committee,” said Giri.

Government employees across the hills have been asked to hold “continuous” rallies from August 8 onwards. Asked if the rallies would be brought out during working hours, Giri said: “They will work as well as hold rallies for Gorkhaland.”

In an effort to make children aware of the statehood demand, exercise books with maps of “Gorkhaland” printed on the insides of the cover were given to students of Ward 23 today.

The vice-chairman of the Darjeeling municipality, Dinesh Gurung, who distributed them, said “We have to make the children aware of our demand. We will try and distribute as many exercise books as possible with the Gorkhaland map on the inside.”

Tripartite talks date

Urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya today said a tripartite meeting to discuss the hills may be held in August, reports our Calcutta correspondent.

“But before that, state government officials will meet members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha,” Bhattacharya said. Ruling out the demand for a separate state, the minister said: “A lot of people of different races reside in India. If all of them start demanding separate states, then every district of India will have to be carved up. Is that possible?” (The Telegraph)

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