Gurung finds solution in joint panel

The Telegraph
VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, Oct. 25: Bimal Gurung today hinted that a possible solution to end the impasse surrounding the territorial dispute of the interim set-up could lie in forming a joint verification committee.

The committee, comprising representatives of the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, will survey the areas that can be tagged along with the three hill subdivisions in Darjeeling district as part of the new set-up in the days to come, he said.

The Morcha president today held a meeting with the representatives of the party’s units in the Dooars and Terai to discuss “both the positive and negatives” of the negotiations that are on.

About the “positives”, Gurung said: “Those (issues) that have not been finalised like the territory, tauzi and the transfer of legislative powers will be negotiated at the political-level talks. The Centre and the state are trying to bargain and I will never let down the people of Dooars and Terai.” He said the people should not listen to rumours that the Dooars and Terai have been excluded from the interim set-up.

But Gurung also made it clear that it was not easy to instantly incorporate all areas. “During the meeting (political level talks), a decision might also be reached to form a joint verification committee that will survey the areas of Dooars and Terai and submit a report by 2011. In such a situation, the government has to agree to include the Nepali-dominated areas in the administrative arrangement that will be in force till 2012,” said Gurung.

The interim set-up, which is presently being negotiated, is supposed to be in force only till 2012.

The Morcha president said the “negatives” constituted the present political situation in Bengal. “The Congress, Trinamul Congress and the CPM may not agree to let go of the territories (to be included in the set-up) until the Assembly elections, fearing that they might lose the state elections. This is why this (formation of joint verification committee) is also being pursued,” he told the gathering in Darjeeling adding that the state was hatching a conspiracy to ensure that the plains are never administratively tagged with the hills. “We must not allow the state to succeed.”

The Telegraph had reported in today’s edition that a backstage negotiation was probably on given the fact that Gurung sounded confident of inking a settlement in the very next round of the political-level talks.

Given the fact that territory is a touchy issue, Gurung, did not clearly maintain that the Morcha has agreed to the joint verification committee proposal. “You must not think that this is finalised. I am merely talking about the pros and cons,” he said.

In fact, The Telegraph had reported on July 24that the Morcha was not averse to an idea of a joint committee to conduct surveys for inclusion of the areas in Dooars and Terai as had been done when the Bodo Territorial Council was formed.

Gurung added that the people of Dooars and Terai must intensify the agitation to be included in the interim set-up. “Soon after Diwali we will hold a massive meeting in Terai to intensify the movement. The inclusion demand must now come strongly from the plains people,” said Gurung.
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www.kalimpong.info

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