West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday accused NDA-ruled Sikkim of monetarily aiding Gorkhaland agitators to create unrest in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal.
Speaking at an event at Chowrasta in Darjeeling town on Wednesday, the Trinamool Congress supremo warned Sikkim against interfering in the matters of West Bengal: “Darjeeling has a world-class name which many people in our neighbourhood don’t want. Sikkim is monetarily aiding unrest in Darjeeling so that they can benefit from the tourist inflows that would otherwise have come to Darjeeling, which is more beautiful than Switzerland. I want peace in Sikkim and expect them to reciprocate the same,” she said.
Relations between the two states soured after Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling shot a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh last year advocating separation of proposed Gorkhaland from West Bengal.
The West Bengal Chief Minister also handed over cheques of Rs 2 lakh each to the kin of nine of the 12 people killed during the 104-day Gorkhaland statehood agitation last year. Three families of the deceased refused to accept the compensation and stayed away from the event.
Sounding a warning against strikes, she added: “Rest of Bengal is not affected by the strikes in Darjeeling as the region is at a corner of the state. It is you people who suffer the most. Besides Sikkim, some foreign countries are also trying to create problems in Darjeeling and some rumour-mongers living outside the state are spreading lies in social media. I urge you not to play into their hands.
Darjeeling can’t be bought with money,” she added.
The TMC supremo also lashed out at the BJP stating that the saffron party had duped the people of the hills by promising Gorkhaland. “I don’t come to you to seek votes unlike BJP which duped you by promising Gorkhaland and garnered all the three MLAs and one MP of the region. Bengal government does not interfere into the matters of Darjeeling. We respect autonomy of the Gorkhas,” she added.
The Chief Minister also promised a university in the district and said that jobs of civic volunteers in West Bengal Police will be offered to men and women who excel in sports. She also mooted plans to establish tourism, orchid, vegetable and IT hubs in the district. She would end her three-day visit to the hills on Thursday.
On the other hand, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal Gurung) supremo Bimal Gurung issued a press release stating that he would continue to fight for a separate state.
Caption: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee being greeted by Darjeeling residents with traditional scarves 'khadas' in Darjeeling on Wednesday. | Express West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hands over prizes to winners of a sports competition in Darjeeling on Wednesday.