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23 Jun 2017

Govt appeals for peace in hills

The ministers at the meeting on Thursday
BIRESWAR BANERJEE & AVIJIT SINHA, TT, Siliguri, June 22: The state government today said it was in favour of peace in the Darjeeling hills and asked parties spearheading the agitation to refrain from violence keeping in mind people's inconveniences.
The message was conveyed at an all-party meeting skipped by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other hill-based organisations.
Only the representatives of the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, which have minimum presence in Bengal, and Trinamul attended the session.
The CPM, BJP and the Congress had said they would boycott the meeting as it was not convened by the chief minister.
The government had invited representatives of 15 community-based development boards in the hills to the session. But the representatives of development boards for the Kamis and hill minorities were present.
Three ministers, Partha Chatterjee, Aroop Biswas and Gautam Deb, and home secretary Moloy De and other government officials were present.
Asked about the message for the hill parties and their absence from the meeting, Chatterjee said: "We have initiated the process (of restoring peace in the hills) and want all political parties to attend the meeting. The state is always in favour of peace and development in the hills. We believe those who are into the movement and observing an indefinite strike will realise the importance of such meetings."
On June 20, all hill parties had met in Darjeeling and decided that they would not attend today's session.
The BJP said there was no point in attending the meeting as the Morcha and other Gorkha parties were staying away.
The education minister said the hill parties, too, had a responsibility to ensure peace.
"We believe in tolerance and hope those who have called the strike will realise the inconvenience faced by common people. They have also a responsibility to ensure that the peace process is expedited and normality is restored. The agitators should refrain from violence and see that no blood is spilled in the hills," said Chatterjee.

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