Morcha fast to continue

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, May 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to carry on with the indefinite hunger strike, which completed its fifth day, despite the Bengal chief secretary requesting the hill party to withdraw the agitation for the first time today.

Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri after a meeting at Singamari here today said: “We had a meeting which was attended by the central committee members, elected GTA Sabha members and representative of the party’s frontal organisations and it was decided that the indefinite hunger strike would carry on as our demands are reasonable.”

Giri added that the party representatives had spoken to chief secretary Samar Ghosh.

“We had a telephonic conversation with the chief secretary today. He requested us to lift the hunger strike and also assured us that he would look into our demands. But this was just a verbal communication,” he said.

Although Giri did not elaborate much, there were indications that the Morcha was looking for a written assurance from the state government stating that the hill party’s demands would be met.

Since Sunday, 14 elected GTA Sabha members and two commissioners of Mirik municipality have been on an indefinite hunger strike in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

The Morcha is demanding that the GTA be allowed to function without any interference from the state government, all cases slapped against its activists during the four year Gorkhaland agitation period be withdrawn and an end to alleged police atrocities.

The hill party is also demanding that the fact verification committee looking into the recommendation of the Justice (retd) Shyamal Sen committee conduct a field visit.

“Our demands are not unreasonable as GTA is supposed to be an autonomous body which should function without the interference of the state government. With regard to withdrawal of the cases, this point has already been agreed to in the memorandum of agreement. During the last review meeting on the working of the GTA, held in Delhi on December 26, 2012, the state’s home secretary had said that 150 cases against Morcha activists would be withdraw within 10 days. Why haven’t the cases been withdrawn even after so many days?” Giri asked.

He said a field visit by the fact verification committee was also a justified demand. “The Justice Shyamal Sen committee did not conduct any field visit before making his recommendation. That is why we want the verification committee to make a field visit.”

Sen had recommended the inclusion of five of the 396 mouzas that were demanded by the Morcha in the GTA.

Giri said the hill party would continue to organise rallies across the town. “The rally could not be organised today because of incessant rain.”

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