WB chief secy differs with minister on Darjeeling issue

Kolkata, Feb 14 (PTI) A senior West Bengal ministertoday claimed that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, agitating for aseparate Gorkhaland state, was in touch with the rebelsof the North East and the Maoists, but the Chief Secretarydiffered with him.

Ashok Bhattacharya, the MLA of Siliguri which is thegateway to Darjeeling hills, told reporters here that GJMmovement leaders were in contact with extremist groups of thenorth eastern region and procuring arms from them.

Darjeeling district shares border with Sikkim, Bhutanand Nepal while its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district has acommon border with Assam.

"I can''t rule out Maoist hand in Darjeeling hills,"the minister said, adding that reports reaching him indicatedthat Maoists had been holding out threats to the local people.

State Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh, however, differedwith him saying he had no such information.

"I have no such information from the intelligence orany other sources," Ghosh said.

Holding the GJM responsible for the violence inDarjeeling hills ''in connivance with the Trinamool Congress'',Bhattacharya said these parties had been out to put the blameon the state government for the present unrest in the hills.

Bhattacharya, also a senior CPI-M leader, said thepresent situation in the hills was not conducive for holdingAssembly elections "and not even election campaigns".

"The situation in Darjeeling hills is worse than thatof Khejuri and Nandigram in East Midnapore district," he said.

In this point too, the chief secretary, without namingthe minister, begged to differ.

"I don''t have any such information that the presentsituation in Darjeeling is not conducive for holding Assemblyelections. I have not received any formal complaint in thisregard from any political party", Ghosh told reporters.

"If the situation is conducive for election or notwill be assessed by the Election Commission. The EC willmake its own assessment in this regard", Ghosh said.

The state government was sending its report on law andorder to the Ministry of Home Affairs on a regular basis, hesaid. "The state government is ready to send its opinion, ifthe EC asks for it."

Stating that the state already asked the Centre for atleast 100 companies of central forces ''immediately'' forDarjeeling and other areas where similar law and order problemexisted, Ghosh said the government was yet to receive anyfeedback from the Centre in this regard. (More) PTI AKB PB NN

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