Chants of Gorkhaland interrupt Mamata speech in Darjeeling
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As the GJM supporters began flashing placards and shouting slogans for a separate state of Gorkhaland, Mamata Banerjee tried to shout them down saying it was a "government programme and no political slogan should be raised to spoil the event".
"Political slogans should be raised in political platforms. This will hamper the development of Darjeeling," and angry Mamata warned the audience.
Amidst the growing din, the GJM leaders, who were on the podium, also began to walk out.
Later, speaking to mediapersons, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said: "There were political overtones when the Chief Minister said Darjeeling is part and parcel of Bengal and cannot be divided. Every time the CM visited Darjeeling, she inflicted pain on us in small measures by reminding us that Darjeeling is a part of Bengal. The Bengal CM may try to make her own political mileage out of such announcements, but she should have realised that such words hurt the sentiments of the Gorkhas."
Asked if he was contemplating to resign from Gorkha Territorial Administration(GTA), Gurung, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the body, said: "I can step down any moment. No one should cling to the post permanently. However, the GTA will take its decision after holding meetings."
Gurung also accused the state government of "interfering into the affairs of the Hills even after the creation of the GTA". "It (GTA) has not been given the political space it should have," he said and cited the example of Mamata Banerjee distributing land pattas to several hundred people in the the hills district without consulting the GTA. For every small events like sports awards, the CM was visiting Darjeeling but the GTA was kept totally in the dark, said Gurung.
"Peace is still prevailing in the hills. But some vested circles are trying to disrupt it," Gurung said and added that he want the talks to continue, "but no one should undermine us."
Gautam Deb, North Bengal Development Minister who holds charge for Darjeeling affairs, admitted that land pattas were given to over 480 people by the Chief Minister in three sub-divisions of the hills.
Ramesh Alley, the deputy Chief Executive of the GTA, said: "Land department has been handed over to the GTA but how come the CM was distributing land pattas without the knowledge of the GTA." Asked if the GJM activists had come prepared to flash the Gorkhaland posters before the CM, Alley said: "The GJM supporters always carry the posters and placards with them. The demand is close to their hearts.
Meanwhile, a team of GJM supporters is in Delhi participating in a dharna at Jantar Mantar. They met senior BJP leader L K Advani to discuss the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.