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15 Jun 2017

Tremors in Hills: CM meets Guv; Gurung again tells tourists to stay away from Darjeeling

EOI, Kolkata, 14 Jun 2017:Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today had an unscheduled meeting with Governor Kesri Nath Tripathy at Raj Bhavan. Mamata, who was accompanied by minister for PWD Arup Biswas reached Raj Bhavan at 12.30 pm in the afternoon and had a one-on-one meeting with the governor for half-an-hour.
The situation at Darjeeling is believed to have largely featured in the talks as just on Tuesday the Governor, at the sidelines of a function in Kolkata, took a serious view of the on-going unrest at Darjeeling and saying all stake holders in the hills should sit across the table and look for a solution. ``The situation at Darjeeling is quite unfortunate I request all concerned to sit across the table and sort out the problems,'' the Governor said. The state government today replaced GTA secretary Don Bosco Lepcha with C Murugan who till now was managing director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation.
Meanwhile Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung today threatened to intensify the movement for a separate Gorkhaland and urged the tourists not to visit Darjeeling as they might be inconvenienced. "An indefinite bandh of the government and GTA offices has been called. The movement for Gorkhaland will be intensified," he said, adding that he would resign from the post of GTA chief executive shortly. He, however, said that the GJM MLAs will not resign from the West Bengal Assembly. Gurung cautioned the tourists saying they should stay away from the hill station as they might be inconvenienced due to the ongoing political unrest there. "I will not welcome the tourists as they may face problems. There will be protests and strikes in the hills," he added.
However state minister for tourism Gautam Deb slammed the GJM chief for his statement. "Darjeeling is not the property of anybody. Gurung should not make such statements. No one is above the law," he said.
On the other hand the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) led shutdown in the Darjeeling hills entered day three today with rallies being taken out to demand a separate Gorkhaland state and police patrolling troubled areas to quell any violence. Most shops in and around Chowkbazar and Mall Road in the hill town were closed.
Police was on high alert with patrolling under way in several areas. No untoward incident was reported till afternoon. The GJM, along with other hill parties, took out rallies in several areas of the hills in support of their demand. The GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown of government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices in Darjeeling hills began on June 12. A GJM procession had marched to several government offices in Chowkbazar area yesterday to stop people from reporting for work. GJM supporters had turned violent and pelted stones at the police when they were stopped on Tuesday. Their call for a separate state of Gorkhaland gained momentum after six other hill parties extended their support to GJM and unanimously passed a resolution demanding a separate state on Tuesday.
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress, has also backed the demand for a separate state. Police pickets and barricades were placed in front of the government and GTA offices and various entry and exit points of the hills while Rapid Action Force (RAF) and a sizeable number of women police personnel were deployed. The Centre on Tuesday despatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist the West Bengal government in restoring normalcy in the violence-hit area. Breaking its alliance with the TMC, the GNLF today justified joining hands with the GJM, and said the party has been fighting for a separate Gorkhaland since its inception.
The GNLF, formed by the late firebrand leader Subhash Ghisingh, had led a violent movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties, following which the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed. Bimal Gurung broke away from the GNLF and formed the GJM in 2007 and subsequently emerged as the dominant force in the hills.
"The GNLF, since its inception in the eighties under the leadership Subhash Ghisingh, has been fighting for Gorkhaland. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a separate state of Gorkhaland," Neraaj Zimba, spokesperson of the GNLF, told news agency PTI.

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