KOLKATA: Union MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju on Thursday found himself again in the hot seat while visiting landslide-hit Kalimpong in Darjeeling hills of West Bengal. He was on his way to Kurseong and Mirik, where several people lost their lives in the landslides triggered by incessant rains on Tuesday night.
During the visit, people complained to him about lack of rescue and relief operations following the landslides which devastated large parts of the hill district. Rijiju, was accompanied by BJP Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling Surinder Singh Ahluwalia. However, some legislators of the Gorkha Janamulti Morcha (GJM) who were also present, pacified the crowd. They said it was the first time any Union Minister had come to the hills following a natural calamity and the Central government had immediately ordered relief operations.
The Army on Thursday deployed two task forces in North Bengal consisting of four teams each. Each team comprises nearly 60 soldiers including medics, engineers and signallers. The teams are carrying flood relief stores, including boats and life jackets. But the ongoing rescue and relief operations in Mirik and Kurseong, where several persons still remain unaccounted for, have been affected as a resulted of the continuing wet weather. Also, several thousand people in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district had been hit as the rivers were flowing above the danger mark, with a red alert issued by the district administration.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the state government’s disaster management force is carrying out rescue and relief operations in the hills. While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been in Darjeeling since Wednesday evening, met and distributed cheques to the families of those who lost their lives in the landslide.
Meanwhile, rescue teams have not been able to access a large number of people, who took refuge in a nearby tea garden near Mirik.