Govt letter gesture to Gurung – Morcha leaders deny receiving missive

The telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Bimal Gurung

Darjeeling, March 18: The state government sent a letter, dated February 27, to Bimal Gurung, saying it was committed to ensure that the GTA agreement was honoured, said a source in the Darjeeling administration.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders denied that party chief Gurung had got such a missive.

Officials in Writers’ confirmed they knew that such a letter was to be sent to Gurung. They could not confirm if Gurung had received it.

The source said the letter was probably sent to test the mood in the hills, but, as far as the official knew, Gurung had not replied to it. The letter was signed by state chief secretary Sanjay Mitra and said that cooperation was needed to ensure that the GTA functioned smoothly, the source said.

Gurung is the chief executive of the GTA Sabha.

The source said: “The letter was signed by chief secretary Sanjay Mitra and said the state government has always addressed all grievances and the government was committed to ensure that the agreement (between the state and Morcha) is honoured.”

In the letter, the chief secretary had mentioned that in the past, the hill economy had suffered largely because of the Morcha’s four-year agitation, the source said.

“The chief secretary was perhaps testing waters and if Gurung had replied, the communication channel that had been severed would perhaps have opened. As far as I know, Gurung has not yet responded,” the source said.

Roshan Giri, general secretary of the Morcha and also an executive Sabha member, denied that any letter had reached the GTA chief. “We are not aware of such a letter. We have not received it,” he said.

Gurung could not be contacted. Binay Tamang, also an executive Sabha member, said over phone from Kumani, where he has accompanied Gurung: “As far as I know, daju (Gurung) has not received any letter from the state government.”

Some sources in the hills said the letter was important as it gave an indication about the state’s mind. “The letter is of importance and it is surprising the Morcha leaders are maintaining that Gurung has not received the letter. The letter had the potential to diffuse the present situation,” a source said.

The Morcha’s relations with the government became rocky since January-end. Gurung complained that the state was interfering the GTA’s work and not handing over departments to the hill authority as it should. The letter was sent before Gurung left for Delhi on March 4 to meet Union ministers.

In Calcutta, neither the chief secretary nor the home secretary could be contacted.

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