Case withdrawal focus in Giri letter

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Bimal Gurung

Darjeeling, March 26: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in its letter to the government has requested immediate withdrawal of cases slapped on the supporters during the Gorkhaland agitation.

The letter has not mentioned anything on the Morcha’s grouse of state interference in GTA affairs, a matter the hill party seems more inclined to sort out legally.

The letter, written by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, was sent to state chief secretary Sanjay Mitra today. Giri’s letter was in response to a missive sent by the chief secretary on February 27 and received by the Morcha on March 19.

The Morcha’s letter cited Article 29 of the Memorandum of Agreement, which says the state government will review all cases registered against its members involved in the four-year agitation for Gorkhaland.

“A few months back, in terms of the said MoA, cases registered in the GTA area, Terai and the Dooars region in connection with the GJM agitation, numbering around 650, were referred to the state government for withdrawal as stipulated between the parties to the MoA. However, unfortunately, till date no action in the matter has been taken by the appropriate authorities,” the letter read.

Giri also mentioned that state home secretary Basudeb Banerjee had said at a meeting in New Delhi on December 26, 2012, that 150 cases would be withdrawn in 10 days. The Delhi meeting was held to review the functioning of the GTA.

Sources said the Morcha was worried that the non-withdrawal of cases by the government was having a negative effect on its supporters.

“The party is under pressure from its supporters to ensure that the cases are withdrawn immediately so that they do not have to go to court regularly,” said a Morcha source.

Giri also wrote: “We strongly request that, in these circumstances the PPs (public prosecutors) and APPs (assistant public prosecutors) may please be directed to different criminal courts about the referred provisions of the tripartite agreements and the aforementioned MoA so that the courts may also take a lenient view before issuing warrants of arrests relating to the GJM agitation cases.”

In his February letter addressed to Bimal Gurung, Mitra had sought the Morcha’s co-operation in running the GTA.

Some hill sources expressed surprise that the Morcha had only talked about withdrawal of cases, not the perceived state meddling in the functioning of the GTA, especially after Bimal Gurung’s announcement in Kalimpong yesterday that he would not resign as the chief executive of the GTA.

“Given Gurung’s statement that he would not resign from the GTA before the completion of the five-year tenure, it is surprising that in Giri’s letter, the party had not asked for a meeting with the state government on the functioning of the GTA. It is difficult for the GTA to function without the state government’s co-operation,” said an observer.

But another Morcha leader, Binay Tamang, said some of the issues would be dealt with legally.

The Morcha assistant general secretary said: “We have filed a case against the government and made the Centre party to it not only in the appointment of the principal secretary of the GTA but also in the anomalies in the MoA, the Act and the subsequent notifications that the state had issued on the transfer of departments. The case has been admitted in the high court and hearing will take place on April 2.”

Meet at Mirik

Sources in the Morcha said the party would organise a meeting at Mirik on April 5, which is the foundation day of the GNLF.

According to the sources, the meeting has been planned in Mirik with the belief that the GNLF will also organise its foundation day in the same town.

In the past, the Morcha has always foiled the GNLF’s attempt to organise public meetings on the foundation day by announcing its own party programmes. GNLF leaders, however, said this year, the party would organise the foundation day function not in Mirik but at the Simulbarie football ground, situated in the plains.

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