The Central government on Thursday held the fifth round of tripartite talks with the West Bengal government and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which submitted a blue print for an interim regional authority to be constituted for Darjeeling and some areas around it.
The talks were attended by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Ajay Maken, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, interlocutor Lt. Gen. Vijay Madan, officials of the West Bengal government and political representatives.
Mr. Giri submitted the blue print for the “interim authority” having powers similar to a State with a High Court of its own and demanded Schedule Caste status for the Gorkhas and a Supreme Court Bench, official sources said.
The Centre expressed the hope that some common ground could be found during the next round of talks scheduled for mid-May. “They have submitted a proposal for an interim authority. The next round of talks will be [held] in the middle of May,” Mr. Maken told reporters after the political-level talks.
According to the GJM's plan, the regional authority should have no interference from the West Bengal government, and it should be vested with powers on law and order and have a body like a State Assembly, informed sources said. The regional authority may be named either the Gorkhaland Regional Authority or the Darjeeling and Dooars Regional Authority.
We need time: Bhattacharya
Marcus Dam reports from Kolkata:
“The GJM's suggestion for an interim arrangement was officially placed at the meeting. …we have said we need time to study the proposals after which we will give our views,” West Bengal Minister for Municipal Affairs Ashok Bhattacharya told The Hindu on the telephone from New Delhi.
Thursday's meeting was convened to find a way out of the impasse in the Darjeeling hills arising from the GJM's demand for a ‘Gorkhaland' State.
The State government has rejected the demand.
Mr. Bhattacharya, along with Health Minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, represented the State government at the talks.
Describing the talks as “cordial,” Mr. Giri said they centred on the GJM's proposal for “an interim arrangement for the region till December 31, 2011 to pave the way for the creation of Gorkhaland.” “The Gorkhaland demand is a long-standing one, and in no way will we go back on it.”
“Our draft proposal [for the interim arrangement] has now been made available to the West Bengal government. The issue of territory and other matters related to the interim arrangement will be taken up in the future round of talks,” Mr. Giri said.