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9 Jul 2017

Trinamul, BJP trade barbs over Darjeeling

TT, July 8: The Trinamul Congress and the BJP today trained guns on each other as a fresh round of violence erupted in the Darjeeling hills
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha accused the Bengal government of failing to restore normality in the hills. Tourism minister and Trinamul leader Gautam Deb alleged that the BJP-led Centre was playing politics and refusing to provide adequate security forces for the hills.
Sinha, who is touring north Bengal, told reporters in Jalpaiguri today: "The first fault of the state government was the attempt to make Bengali compulsory in hill schools. Then, Trinamul tried to gain political control of the hills by resorting to coercion and using police and the administration. These attempts triggered tension across the hills and now the situation is spinning out of control."
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has clarified several times that Bengali would not be made compulsory in the Darjeeling hills.
"The law-and-order situation is pathetic in the hills. Arson and other violent incidents are taking place every day. We fail to understand what the state plans to do to resolve the crisis," Sinha said.
Minister Deb rubbished Sinha's allegations.
"The police and the administration have not resorted to coercion. They have exercised restraint. BJP leaders are making lengthy statements now, but it is these people who incited the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and are still backing them," Deb said.
He pointed out that Darjeeling BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia had not visited his constituency during the unrest.
"Also, the BJP has not yet clarified its stance on whether it is in favour of the statehood demand. Although the Morcha is its ally, we have never seen any initiative from the BJP to approach Morcha leaders and tell them to refrain from violence and withdraw the indefinite strike," Deb said.
"During this hour of crisis, the Centre did not bother to act on the state's request for adequate paramilitary forces to prevent violence. BJP leaders are instead playing politics by making baseless allegations," he added.
Firing death
A local BJP leader died of bullet injuries he suffered when suspected Trinamul supporters fired at and hurled bombs at a BJP rally in North Dinajpur's Chopra this evening. Haren Singha, 35, was a block secretary of the BJP. The party alleged another leader, Pankaj Ghosh, was in hospital with injuries. Trinamul denied involvement in the attack.

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