Millennium Post

Mamata condemns GJM violence, says ready to talk in conducive atmosphere

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday strongly condemned the violence unleashed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM) in Darjeeling and said her government is ready to initiate a dialogue with the party in a conducive environment.

Banerjee, who chaired a high level meet at the state secretariat in Nabanna that was participated by various development boards of the hills, said an all-party meeting will be held in Siliguri on June 22 to discuss the growing unrest in the northern West Bengal hills. The GJM has called an indefinite shutdown in the hills to demand a separate Gorkhaland state.

Coming down heavily on the GJM violence, Banerjee said: "This is a deep-rooted conspiracy. So much of arms and ammunition couldn't have come in a single day. There is an international border and state border. They are violating the Constitution. They are only hurling bombs. They are stockpiling illegal arms and bombs."

Banerjee said the state government is ready to initiate a dialogue with the party in a conducive environment.

"We are ready but not under the current situation," she said.

Banerjee alleged the GJM had connections with the northeast insurgency groups as well as a "foreign" link.

"We have come to know from the police that there is a link with terrorists. I am told there is a connection with underground insurgents from the northeast India. I have requested that they should not extend any support in Darjeeling," she said.

"Development work will continue and there should be an end to this deep rooted conspiracy in the hills. In this matter, the central and state government must come together," she said.

"The board members have set up a committee to maintain peace," she said.

Banerjee slammed the GJM supporters for "insulting" the national flag.

"They aren't listening to the court (Calcutta High Court) even after it passed an order saying the bandh is illegal. Don't know from where they get support. They are using the national flag for vandalism. We are proud of our national flag... How can they throw bombs at the national flag? How can they do it? They have stopped tourism, transport, drinking water supply and food. The GJM supporters burnt down the primary health centre. Mediapersons are in danger, they are being blackmailed and threatened," she said.

Banerjee urged the people in the hills to not listen to the GJM leadership.

"I will urge the people in the hills to not be misled by the GJM leadership. They are corrupt. They have vested interests and are selling the hills. They have stockpiled illegal arms and illegal money," she said.

Asked about reports of police firing, Banerjee denied the charge.

"That is absolutely wrong. They (GJM) started firing. We can't support those who are indulging in violence and hooliganism," she said.

Earlier, GJM protesters resorted to fresh violence after the police raided and allegedly vandalised the residence of Morcha Assistant General Secretary Binay Tamang in the early hours of Saturday.

An Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) officer was critically injured in a clash with GJM supporters while the party claimed two of its supporters were killed and five critically injured in police firing.

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