Darjeeling, July 17, 2017: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raising security concerns blamed the Centre Government for not cooperating with the West Bengal Government to defuse the Darjeeling unrest.
Addressing media persons in Kolkata, Banerjee stated "West Bengal is a victim of circumstances. We are sandwiched by Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and China. The Union does not have good diplomatic relations with Nepal, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan and it is West Bengal that is suffering" claimed Mamata Banerjee.
The West Bengal CM stated that Darjeeling is adjacent to Sikkim. "If Sikkim is taken over by China, it will emerge as a big danger for Darjeeling. The Centre talks of the sensitivity of the Siliguri corridor or the Chicken's neck. However when we repeatedly asked for Central forces to ensure that the political unrest did not affect the Siliguri corridor, the Centre did not send us forces for a month. They talk of strengthening the chicken's neck but are trying to weaken it" alleged Banerjee.
The Siliguri corridor or Chicken's neck is 200 km long and 60 km wide strip of land connecting North East states with the rest of India. It is the surrounded by 4 international borders namely China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.
"Pashupatinagar on the Nepal side is near to Darjeeling. 400 schools have been set up recently in the Pashupatinagar area to teach Chinese language. What is the SSB, IB and RAW doing?" questioned Banerjee.
Incidentally the SSB guards the 101 km porous border the Darjeeling district shares with Nepal. West Bengal Intelligence agency reports claim that Nepal Maoists have infiltrated into Darjeeling and are aiding the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM.) The report claims that the Nepal Maoists hand in glove with the GJM are indulging in violence and arson in the Hills. The Maoists are allegedly targeting police and administrative top brass state the reports.
The Morcha on Monday gheraoed Government offices in the Hills. GJM supporters in large numbers arrived at the District Magistrate office on the Lebong Cart Road, Darjeeling.
"We wanted to submit a memorandum to the District Magistrate. Instead of calling us to her chamber the District Magistrate came up to the road to meet us. This is an insult hence we did not submit the memorandum" stated Trilok Chandra Roka, GJM leader.
When questioned on the memorandum issue Joyoshi Das Gupta, District Magistrate, Darjeeling stated "I told them clearly that I will accept the memorandum in front of all who have come to demonstrate. I too had a memorandum to give to the agitators but they did not accept it."
When questioned on what was the content of her memorandum, the DM stated "I had written that for the past 33 days the Hills have been forced shut. Schools and education institutions are all closed.
The Hill students are suffering and are falling behind. The tea industry is in doldrums. All the Hill tea estates have been shut down. The second flush (harvest) which is largely exported and brings in foreign exchange has been destroyed. Now the monsoon flush is also on the verge of getting destroyed. The hill economy is in shambles and the residents are bearing the brunt. "
After shouting anti-State Government and pro-Gorkhaland slogans the agitators returned to the Chowk Bazar where GJM leaders addressed the gathering.
"The Gorkhaland agitation is on. We have asked all employees not to attend office. They are still attending. Even if there are threats of losing their jobs, pay cuts or getting transferred they will have to stay away from office from Tuesday. If they continue, we will take the rallies to their residences and launch gheraos. If they want to attend office they will have to give declarations that they do not want Gorkhaland" stated Roka.
The GJM leader claimed that the employees were being provided free rations by the Government for attending office.
GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri and Central Committee member PT Ola are camping in Delhi. The three GJM MLAs were in Kolkata on Monday for the Presidential election. From Kolkata the three MLAs could visit Delhi.
The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee ( a conglomeration of pro-Gorkhaland outfits) will be meeting in Kalimpong on Tuesday to chart future course of action.
A coordination committee delegation could also be visiting Kolkata to meet the West Bengal Governor soon.
The day saw the torching of a police booth in Mirik and the staff quarters of an inspection bungalow of the West Bengal State Electricity Board in Bijanbari allegedly by pro Gorkhaland supporters.