EOI, Darjeeling, 6 March 2017: The Gorkha National Liberation Front today announced it would organise a two-day seminar on the Sixth Schedule in Darjeeling. The event will have resource experts to raise awareness on the pertinence and benefits of implementing the Sixth Schedule in the hills.
Ironically, the GNLF rule came to an end in the hills after Subash Ghisingh started demanding the Darjeeling hills be brought under the purview of the Sixth Schedule. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha opposed the demand and with help from the BJP, managed to get the bill placed in parliament, scrapped.
Taking to reporters today, Sandeep Limbu, the GNLF Darjeeling branch committee spokesperson, said, “We will be organising a two-day seminar on the Sixth Schedule on March 17 and 18 in Darjeeling. We have invited resource persons and experts including prominent Supreme Court lawyers to share their views and knowledge on the issue. The idea is to make the people aware of the benefits of the provision."
The GNLF spokesperson said invitations would be sent to all regional parties including the GJM to attend the seminar.
The GNLF under Subash Ghisingh started the statehood agitation in the 1980s that embroiled the hills in unrest resulting in the death of hundreds of people. The agitation ultimately ended with the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988.
“In the past our party took up issues relating to the well being and aspirations of the hill people. The GJM has failed to work for the people and this has been proven by the political uncertainties taking place in the region at present. We feel the time is right to bring Darjeeling under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule,” Limbu said.
To prove his argument, the GNLF leader highlighted issues like division among hill communities with the formation of 15 development boards by the state government, the BJP and the central government remaining non-committal on the statehood demand despite being the GJM's partner, and the Trinamool Congress making inroads.
“The TMC making its presence felt strongly in the hills and the division of communities with formation of boards are because of the inept GJM leadership. During our time no boards were formed and communities remained united. In fact, as more demands for development boards based on religion and caste are mushrooming, the more is our demand for implementing the Sixth Schedule in the hills gaining credibility,” the GNLF spokesperson asserted.
The GJM on the other hand, has demanded that 11 communities of the hills including one from the Dooars be granted Scheduled Tribe status.
The GNLF has invited leaders from Delhi and also from the Northeast, where the Sixth Schedule has been implemented in some states, to talk about their experience on the matter.