Gurung links hill fate to Telangana – Morcha Chief says all depends on Srikrishna report

The Telegraph

Darjeeling, Dec. 28: Bimal Gurung today said the hills could not be “hoodwinked” into accepting an interim arrangement and threatened to start a mass agitation if the Srikrishna Committee submitted a favourable report on the formation of Telangana on December 31, 2010.

“We are closely monitoring the developments of the Srikrishna Committee. We cannot be hoodwinked and made to accept an interim set-up while the government goes ahead and creates Telangana. We will start a mass agitation and at the moment, I am not in a hurry to sign the understanding on the interim set-up (till the Srikrishna report is tabled before the Union home minister on December 31),” the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president said. He was addressing party workers at Chintan Sabha at Darjeeling Gymkhana Club.

Union home minister P. Chidambaram had formed a committee headed by retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna to determine whether a Telangana state is needed.

According to the terms of reference laid down by the Union government, the committee will basically “examine the situation in the state of Andhra Pradesh with reference to the demand for a separate state of Telangana as well as the demand to maintain the present status of a united Andhra Pradesh”.

The committee formed in February was told to submit the report by December 31.“We can’t have a situation where some one is being given hira-moti (precious stones) and the other is given nothing. If they create Telangana, they must also create Gorkhaland taking into account that this is a sensitive area and statehood is needed to ensure the security of the country,” said Gurung. “If the report is favourable for Telangana, it must be for us too.”

The Morcha chief was critical of GNLF president Subash Ghisingh for failing to raise the statehood issue when Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh were created. “If the statehood agitation had been intensified, we would have had our own state by now. They were caught up with the council (Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was headed by Ghisingh) and politics then was all about satisfying the need of a few politicians,” said Gurung.

Although the Morcha chief has not announced any agitation yet, party media secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri said a movement could kick off with hunger strikes if the Srikrishna report endorsed the formation of Telangana. “The coming days are very important for us. We might have to start with hunger strikes as we had done earlier,” said Chhetri.

Gurung though has not rejected the interim set-up outright, indicating that all depended on the Srikrishna Committee report.

“Our rivals are crying hoarse that we have left the Dooars and Terai but this is not true and I have not yet signed the deal. We are going for naturalisation of the territory. We are taking an indirect approach and we will never leave out Gorkha-dominated areas of the plains,” said Gurung.

By “naturalisation”, Gurung meant bringing all adjacent areas under the hill body. “In places like Pintail and Samsing, half of the house is within the council area while the kitchen is outside. This has to be rectified first,” said Gurung.

Chhetri said following the “naturalisation” of territory, a joint verification committee would be formed to look into the inclusion of Gorkha dominated areas in the new set-up for the hills. “The committee will consist of representatives of the Centre, state and the Morcha and will submit its report by May 2011,” said Chhetri.


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