Gurung demands apology from CM
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The tension between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee escalated today as Gurung demanded that the CM come to Darjeeling and "beg for an apology" to the people of the Hills.
At a press conference, Gurung said, "The relationship between the state government and the GJM has turned so bitter that it cannot be revived until Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee comes down to Chowrasta in Darjeeling and begs for an apology to the people of the Hills. She has hurt the sentiments of the Hills and she has to apologise to them."
The 12-hour strike called by the GJM today to protest against the formation of the Lepcha Development Council (LDC) remained peaceful. Significantly, the strike — the first one in Darjeeling called by the GJM in 21 months — appeared to be successful. All schools, shops, banks and private institutions were closed. However, the national highway connecting Sikkim was operational.
Mamata, meanwhile, sent North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb to hold a meeting with the GJM leadership. Accordingly, local Trinamool leaders sent a message to Gurung that Deb was waiting for him in the government office in Darjeeling. However, Gurung is said to have rejected the proposal for the meeting.
Gurung said, "We will not go to meet any representative of the state government. If they want to talk to us, they have to come to my residence and talk to me."
Deb, who has been in Darjeeling since Friday evening, said, "We are ready to talk to the GJM. A solution is possible only if we can talk to them. We are ready to talk if they are willing to talk."
Gurung added that he had sent representatives to the Lepchas, who are on hunger strike in Kalimpong. Bhupinder Lepcha, leader of the Lepcha movement, said, "Harka Bahadur Chetri, GJM MLA of Kalimpong, told us that the GJM has sympathy for us. But we don't want sympathy. We want our rights."
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