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8 Feb 2018

Sikkim behind stir in Hills, says Mamata

TNN | Feb 7, 2018, Darjeeling: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused Sikkim of unnecessary interference by supporting the 104-day statehood agitation in the Hills.
GJM president Binay Tamang had made the same allegation on January 21.
"Darjeeling has its own fame because it is more beautiful than Sikkim. Any unrest in Darjeeling benefits Sikkim. People come from Sikkim with money to help agitators create trouble. There are foreign powers that want to create unrest in the Hills. I love Sikkim and want them to prosper but they should not interfere in our matters," Banerjee said.
"Darjeeling is part of Bengal and we love the place. No Bengal chief minister under CPM visited it more than twice, but I come here every two months. I don't come asking for votes but to see the area is developed," Banerjee said.
"We don't want to interfere in the Hills, but you should take care of it and ensure peace and stability. That's why GTA was formed. We don't want to administer the council body because you have people to run it. The state government will extend all support," she added.
Assuring the hills of a university, a demand raised by GJM, Banerjee said: "The state government will establish a university in the Hills soon. Unlike the BJP government, that only wants to take political advantage, you don't have to beg me to do things for you. I will also seek alms from Delhi. We will prosper together with whatever we have. This I pledge today."
With GTA chairman Tamang sharing the dais at a sports festival prize distribution ceremony, Banerjee said: "(He) has requested me to hold a business meet in Darjeeling to explore opportunities to establish industry in the region. I will request industrialists to come for a meeting in Darjeeling in March-April. Investors are af-raid to come. It is for you to create a conducive atmosphere."
Family members of nine persons killed in last year's agitation were each given Rs 2 lakh compensation. However, only five arrived to receive it.
Tamang said it was imperative to develop a new political culture. "We have apprised the CM about problems plaguing the Hills. We will have a review meeting on Thursday. We have to ensure development in the Hills, for which we have to stop throwing brickbats at each other."
Also on Wednesday, beleaguered GJM leader Bimal Gurung issued a statement announcing his decision to observe balidan diwas, without specifying the programme venue. GJM observes July 27 every year as martyrs' day in memory of those killed in the 1986 and 2008 agitations. Gurung said he would struggle for a separate state till his "last breath". "I will not be there in the flesh but my prayers will be there for the martyrs and their families," he said.

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