A four member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) delegation met the Prime Minister, union home minister and finance minister separately in Delhi on Friday.
Led by GJM president Bimal Gurung the delegation comprised of General Secretary Roshan Giri along with Central Committee members Jyoti Rai and Diwakar Gurung.
The meetings mainly revolved around the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA- an autonomous administrative mechanism for the Darjeeling Hills.)
"We requested the Prime Minister along with the Union Finance and Home Minister for an extension of the special benefits enjoyed by the North East States to the GTA. The seven north east States enjoy tax holidays, subsidies and special grants. All these benefits should be extended to the GTA" stated Rai.
The GJM delegation put forward the demand for a Central University and an IIT institute for the GTA area. "A Central University has been a long standing demand in the Darjeeling Hills. Both the Central University and the IIT is a Central Subject, hence we put forward our request" stated Rai.
The GJM has appealed for the delegation of power to the GTA for the management of Reserve Forests. Though the List of subjects to be transferred to the GTA includes management of Forests, it has excluded Reserve Forests.
"Many important roads will pass through Reserve Forests (with no alternatives available.) Likewise water pipelines also pass through Reserve Forests. Reserve forests are the important catchment area for important water projects. To facilitate development work Reserve Forests have to come under the GTA. In case of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) the management of Reserve Forests lie with the BTC, likewise it should also be given to the GTA" remarked Rai.
The GJM delegation also requested that the GTA be made the authority for handing out "Gorkha Certificates." Gorkha Certificate is a proof of identity (for a Gorkha) required for availing physical exemption in armed and paramilitary forces and for joining the Gorkha Brigade of the Indian Army.
"Till date there is no agency or person assigned to issue this certificate and persons requiring Gorkha Certificates have been filing affidavits. The GTA should be given the power to issue Gorkha certificates" suggested Rai.
"The Prime Minister along with the other Ministers were very positive to our demands. They have assured us that they would look into our demands and do the necessary. All the three meetings have been very fruitful" added Giri.