GJM in touch with NE rebels, procuring arms: minister

Kolkata, Feb 14 (PTI) A minister in the West Bengalgovernment today claimed that GJM, agitating for a Gorkhalandstate, was in touch with northeast rebel groups and hinted ata Maoist hand in the latest Darjeeling flare-up.

Ashok Bhattacharya, also a prominent CPI-M leader,told reporters that GJM movement leaders were in contact withextremist groups of the northeast and procuring arms fromthem.

Holding the GJM solely responsible for the violence inthe Darjeeling hills ''in connivance with the TrinamoolCongress'', Bhattacharya said these parties had been out to putthe blame on the state government for the present unrest inthe hills.

Calling for a negotiated settlement of the hillproblem, he said he did not rule out a Maoist hand in theviolence in the hills.

"I can''t rule out Maoist hand in Darjeeling hills," hesaid, adding that reports reaching him indicated that theMaoists had been holding out threats to the local people.

Bhattacharya said that ever since the brutal killingof AIGL leader Madan Tamang some months back, unrest, chaos,lawlessness and panic obtained in the hills.

After its participation in the Delhi tripartitemeeting on January 25, the GJM had indulged in violence inDarjeeling knowing it well that their separate statehooddemand will not be met by the state government," he observed.

Bhattacharya alleged that the food items enteringDarjeeling hills were being consumed by GJM leaders whilecommon people suffered due to the indefinite general strike.

The CPI-M leader observed that the present situationin the hills was not conducive for holding Assembly elections''and not even election campaigns''.

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

Demanding more central forces for Darjeeling, he saidthat the Election Commission had to take proper steps forholding polls in the hills.

"I would suggest that the EC hold meetings withpolitical parties in Siliguri in this regard," he said, addingthat the CPI-M had convened a ''Nagarik sammelan'' (Citizensconvention) in Siliguri on February 18 to discuss thesituation.

Claiming that GJM workers had destroyed 62 governmentproperties in the last few days, the minister said that theprobe into the Madan Tamang killing and the disappearance ofthe main accused Nicole Tamang would unravel more startlingfacts.

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