Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 4:The GNLF today waved an RTI reply from the Union home ministry to claim that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or any other party had not placed the demand for Gorkhaland before the Centre.
The Morcha soon showed another RTI response from the home ministry – both the replies were given by the same official – to blunt the GNLF charge and show that it had pursued the statehood demand with the Centre.
Neeraj Zimba, a central committee member of the GNLF, made public the RTI replies by Ashutosh Jain, director, Centre-state relation-II and central public information officer. Jain said the CPIO had not maintained any information, when asked which political party was the first from the Darjeeling hills to raise the Gorkhaland demand and “since then how many and which political parties have raised this matter with Centre government?”.
Replying to the GNLF’s query on the view of the central government on Gorkhaland and demand for “certified copies of the circulars and the file notes in which the issue of a separate state of Gorkhaland was discussed in the last two years”, Jain has said: “The central government does not have any proposal under consideration regarding creation of the State of Gorkhaland.”
Zimba said: “The RTI reply clearly shows that the NDA government has not taken a stand on Gorkhaland and that the Morcha’s claim that the Centre is sympathetic towards the demand is a mere eyewash. As the RTI reply shows that the Centre has no information on the Morcha demanding Gorkhaland, it proves that Morcha leaders are going to Delhi only for taking photos with the central leaders and there has been no headway in the statehood demand.”
Zimba’s RTI reply is dated May 24, 2016 and the GNLF said it was waiting for an appropriate time to reveal the content.
Soon after Zimba’s press conference in Darjeeling, the Morcha’s media cell circulated an RTI copy dated February 2, 2016, issued by the same home ministry official where it had been stated: “In this connection, it is to mention that Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha has submitted various representations demanding a separate State of Gorkhaland.”
The Morcha also circulated the Union home ministry’s itinerary of December 2, 2015, mentioning that a “meeting regarding Gorkhaland issues” had been scheduled for 3.15 pm in the Union home minister’s chamber.
Speaking over the phone from New Delhi, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said: “The RTI reply to us and the home minister’s itinerary clearly show that we have been raising the issue of Gorkhaland. Moreover, in the Memorandum of Agreement of the GTA in 2011, it was stated that the GTA was accepted without dropping the Gorkhaland demand. It is true that there is no proposal for Gorkhaland now and that is why we are continuously demanding a separate state and pressing the Centre to form a committee to examine the statehood demand.“