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GNLF adamant on 6th schedule, holds public meeting in Darjeeling

Darjeeling : The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)on Sunday said it was losing patience with the Centre for the failure of the latter to bring the Darjeeling hills under the ambit of the sixth schedule of the Constitution about which an agreement had been signed in December 2005. In the first public meeting held by GNLF in some time in Darjeeling town, senior GNLF leader Mahendra Chhetri said : “We ask the Centre to be sincere as they are also party to the December 6, 2005 agreement that was signed by our leader and the state government. We have respected the agreement so far but we may not”. The objective of the meeting was to revive the party activity in the hills and to boost the morale of supporters, after the Lok Sabha poll debacle. The party supporters to the meeting had come mostly from Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions. 

In 2005 GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh had signed an agreement to bring the hills under the sixth schedule. However, the move was met with resistance among the people and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) riding the wave managed to get the bill that was placed in Parliament revoked. The GNLF however is adamant that implementing sixth schedule is the only plausible solution to the existing Hills problems. “Our president took up the sixth schedule issue because it will bind the people. It was his foresight which even the GJM has taken up now as they too are demanding giving tribal status to the Gorkha community of the hills,” asserted Chhetri. Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the state government would recommend giving tribal status to 10 hill communities in the run up to the Lok Sabha election. 

GJM party has also demanded tribal status to 11 Gorkha communities which has been endorsed by the BJP it political ally. The GNLF central committee leader also raked up the Assam arrest incident and said people were feeling uneasy and insecure. “We want the government’s intelligence department to tell us who are behind the arms supply and for what reason. It must not forget the Burdwan case. We in the hills after the incident are feeling insecure,” said Chhetri. GNLF central committee leader from Kalimpong Maurice Kalikotey, said: “There is a political vacuum in the hills and people are confused and restless. Our meeting today is tell the people that we (GNLF) are here for them. Also we want give a morale booster to our supporters and strengthen the party”. GNLF has kept a low profile after the rise of GJM in the hills. Matters have been compounded with Ghisingh’s health condition hs deteriorated and he is presently admitted in a Delhi hospital. 

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