Gurung warns of violent stir, blames CM

On the eve of the 12-hour bandh in the Hills called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to protest the government's decision to set up a development council for the Lepchas, the outfit's president Bimal Gurung on Friday said they were prepared to launch "the final movement for the separate state of Gorkhaland".

Speaking at a public rally in Sibchu in Darjeeling where three people were killed in police firing last year, Gurung warned that their movement may not remain "peaceful and Gandhian" anymore as it was all these years under his leadership.

Accusing Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of "trampling on Gorkha hearts", Gurung made a personal attack on the Trinamool Congress leadership saying, "Mamata has no mamata (compassion)". He held her responsible for vitiating the peaceful condition of the Hills by precipitating a crisis in the region.

Warning her that the government's "rough and tough" strategy of Junglemahal will not work in the Hills, Gurung said: "If one Bimal Gurung is eliminated, there will be hundred Bimal Gurungs to take up the Gorkha cause."

He said that the present state government was playing with fire and described the earlier Left Front government as much more sober and decent. He said he will announce stepping down from the GTA, ruled by his party, either at Kalimpong rally on February 17 or the one scheduled to be held in Sukna on March 10. "I'm not bound by any accord," he said, referring to the tripartite agreement signed between GJM, state government and Centre paving the way for GTA's creation.

North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb has, meanwhile, sought a meeting with Gurung on the direction of the chief minister, Trinamool sources said.

Meanwhile, the district administration made arrangements for adequate police force to be deployed in Darjeeling during Saturday's bandh. The bandh has been called in Darjeeling after 21 months. "We will have police force and combat forces from outside Darjeeling," said a senior police officer.

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