GNLF MLA supports demand for Gorkhaland

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Siliguri, Feb 26 (UNI) Giving a boost to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) movement for a separate Gorkhaland, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) MLA Pronoy Rai today extended his support to their demand.

Talking to UNI, Mr Rai, this evening, said, ''In my conversation with West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, I have urged him to visit Darjeeling, just as he has to survey the situation in Singur or Nandigram, and understand the suffering of the people of the district.

''I totally support the demand for a separate Gorkhaland, since it is the right of the Gorkhas in the district,'' Mr Rai, who is presently in Kolkata, reiterated and added, ''I am working in the interest of the people.'' He has also sent a memorandum to Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, urging him to visit the district and ''see for himself the scenario existing in the district''.

When asked about the GNLF's reaction to their party MLA's standpoint, Darjeeling subdivision president Deepak Gurung told UNI, ''Mr Rai's statement is totally his personal opinion and we have nothing to do with it.'' He, however, said the party has not yet decided on any action against him.

Earlier, during the Central Committee meeting of the GJM, party Chairman Bimal Gurung said the GNLF MLA has extended his full support towards their casue. ''We are in constant contact with the Opposition party MLA,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurung declared the relaxation of the general strike by 12 hours from 0630 hrs tomorrow.

Meanwhile, AITC member Partha Chatterjee has said he will be visiting the agitators, sitting on a hunger strike near GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh's Pintail village guesthouse and meet the GJM Chairman as well.

Darjeeling Parbatta Karmochari Shangothon(Hill Employee's Association) today warned of mass resignation if the Sixth Schedule Bill was passed in Parliament's Budget session.

In Darjeeling alone, there are about 5,000 employees and the whole of the Hill area contain about 10,000-12,000 employees.

They have decided to send a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Opposition leader in the Centre L K Advani, among others, explaining the present status in Darjeeling.

The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha earlier this evening decided to accept the formal request of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to hold a meeting on the Sixth Schedule for the Darjeeling Hills at Kolkata tomorrow.

The GJM Central Committee came to this decision after holding a meeting here this evening and announced that a seven-member delegation, led by GJM president Bimal Gurung, will meet Mr Bhattacharjee at the Writer's Buildings tomorrow evening to discuss the issue of the Sixth Schedule as also demand for a separate Gorkhaland.

''However, we will not withdraw our agitation or relax the strike. Until tomorrow's meeting leads to a positive outcome for the Gorkhas, our agitation will continue unabated,'' Mr Gurung asserted.

''We want that DGHC administrative head Subash Ghisingh should be removed from his position and the proposed Sixth Schedule, which was to be passed in the coming budget session of Parliament, be cancelled, because it is not suitable for the Hill area,'' GJM Spokesperson Benoy Tamang said.

Jalpaiguri Divisional Commissioner B L Meena, who yesterday went to Darjeeling to make an assessment of the scenario, today met DM Rajesh Pandey and urged Mr Gurung to meet the chief minister since they have received the formal letter.

Mr Meena said they had requested Mr Gurung to withdraw their agitation, keeping in view the worsening situation in the Hills.

''However, they have refused to do so and have said they will stick to their position until their demands were met,'' Mr Meena said.

''The question of withdrawing the agitation does not even arise,'' Mr Gurung reiterated.

EDS:Here pick up suitably from earlier series.

UNI XC LL AE RAI2148

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