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2 Aug 2017

Hills shows no signs of a let-up ...Mamata Banerjee woos tribals to blunt stir edge

TNN | Aug 2, 2017, NEW DELHI/KOLKATA: The 48-day standoff in the Hills shows no signs of a let-up, with the Hills parties on Tuesday deciding to intensify the movement for a separate state and chief minister Mamata Banerjee saying that she won't allow Bengal to be divided.
Banerjee's comment came at a public meeting at Chopra, North Dinajpur. And while the pro-statehood parties shifted the meeting of the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) to New Delhi to get their voices heard in the corridors of power, the chief minister reached Siliguri on Tuesday afternoon to chair a meeting of the Tribal Advisory Committee at Uttarkanya in Fulbari on Wednesday.
The Adivasis of the Dooars have consistently opposed the Hills parties' efforts towards the creation of Gorkhaland. That the CM had taken up their cause became apparent when she reached out to them at Chopra en route to Siliguri in a bid to sooth the frayed nerves of tribal youths who had gone on the rampage at Raiganj town on July 15 after some tribal girls had been allegedly molested. Banerjee dealt with that and the Hills problem in the same breath, sending out a message to Adivasis across the state.
"The Hills are an integral part of Bengal. We are not going to allow them to be taken away. Some forces are raking up trouble in the region for narrow political gains. I appeal to the Hills parties to restore peace and come for a dialogue," Banerjee said. She held that the creation of a state in this crucial region might invite a bigger international problem. "I am with the people of the Hills, who have bearing the brunt [of the agitation] for all these days. Work has stopped in as many as 80 tea gardens," she added.
The chief minister then touched upon the problems of the Adivasis. "What has happened to some tribal girls there is really shocking. We are committed to arresting the culprits and rehabilitate the victims," she said, knowing that tribal organisations are still upset with the government's failure to arrest the culprits.
The GMCC is unfazed with the state government's bid to throw them a challenge with support from Adivasis. "We will intensify the movement for a separate state," said committee president Kalyan Diwan after the meeting. Diwan also announced a string of planned agitational programmes, beginning with a one-day hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on August 4. He also announced that Gorkhaland supporters will hoist the national flag on August 15 but stay away from Indendence Day celebrations.

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