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1 Aug 2017

Mamata in north amidst hill turmoil

TT, Siliguri, July 31: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived here this evening on a two-day visit to north Bengal.
Her current trip is significant because she has come here for the first time after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha launched the statehood movement and an indefinite strike on the cause on June 15. Other hill parties are also into the movement now.
After holding a meeting of the state cabinet in Darjeeling on June 8, the same day Morcha supporters clashed with police, the chief minister returned from north Bengal on June 10
"Mamata's current visit is important as the impasse is continuing in the hills. More importantly, for the past two-three days, the Morcha has been making repeated attempts to bring down the agitation to the plains and indulging in violence at places like Sukna and Jaigaon," a source in Darjeeling district administration said.
During her stay, Mamata will take stock of the situation and interact with senior civil and police officials, many of whom have been posted in the hills since the Morcha renewed its movement for statehood.
Upon her arrival at Bagdogra airport, the chief minister spoke to some hill Trinamul leaders. It was learnt that she again mentioned the selection of Shanta Chhetri, a former GNLF MLA from Kurseong who is now in Trinamul, as a Rajya Sabha candidate of the ruling party.
Tomorrow, Mamata will attend an administrative meeting in Chopra block of North Dinajpur, located around 40km from here, and address a public meeting.
"The chief minister is expected to hold talks and meetings with officials as well as Trinamul leaders and her cabinet colleagues on the hill issue. That is why Chopra has been selected as the venue, even though it is the farthest block from Raiganj, the district headquarters of North Dinajpur," an official said.
State tourism minister Gautam Deb and north Bengal development minister Rabindranath Ghosh were in Bagdogra to receive Mamata.
Deb is expected to brief her on the current situation in the hills.
Mamata did not speak to the media at Bagdogra.

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