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18 Sep 2017

'Expert' Gorkha panel formed - Apolitical body with political backing launched for statehood

TT, Calcutta, Sept. 17: Army veterans, academics and people from other walks of life from across India have together created an apolitical committee to support the statehood agitation at a time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is divided into two camps.
The National Gorkhaland Committee (NGC) was formed on September 15 after the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) had felt the need for an apolitical forum with experts in different fields to support the statehood demand.
Some of the members of the new committee are Lt Gen (retd) Shakti Gurung, who has worked in different key posts of the Indian Army, including as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of army bases, Mahendra P. Lama, a former vice-chancellor of Sikkim University, Munish Tamang and Shravan Acharya, professors at Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru University, respectively, Trilok Dewan, the former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh, Tamlal Lohar, a former secretary to the Mizoram government, and Brig. (retd) C.S. Thapa, who is also a columnist.
Trilok Dewan is a former Morcha MLA from Darjeeling.
The NGC has journalists and lawyers also as its members.
Tamang, who has been made the convener of the NGC, said it had been created to "support the Gorkhaland demand and bring about the extensive participation of eminent people" in the agitation.
Although the new panel was launched with the mandate of the GMCC, Tamang said, it would work as an "independent" body.
"At the GMCC meeting held in Delhi on August 1, it was decided that a body should be formed consisting of eminent people with expertise in different fields. The GMCC members could join the new forum as individuals and not as representatives of their organisations," Tamang said over the phone from Delhi.
The GMCC was formed by 14 political and apolitical organisations in the Darjeeling hills with the purported purpose of giving a collective leadership to the latest statehood movement. Between August 1 - when the GMCC resolved to launch the panel of the experts - and September 15 - when the NGC was formed -, much water flowed down under the Teesta.
Political equations have changed in the hills with the Morcha being divided into two groups, one led by Bimal Gurung and the other by Binay Tamang. The ABGL has deserted the GMCC which is virtually defunct now. Parties like the GNLF and the Jana Andolan Party, which are constituents of the GMCC, have been been repeatedly launching broadside against the Morcha leadership.
"During such a fluid situation, the formation of eminent people not just from Darjeeling but across north-eastern states and even Uttarakhand could indirectly help shape the future political discourse of the hills though the committee members are largely apolitical," said an observer from the hills.
Both the Gurung and Binay factions of the Morcha have welcomed the NGC's launch.

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