Gorkhaland demand: Mamata Banerjee blames Darjeeling crisis on intel failure
Banerjee’s comments came within hours of police raiding the office of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling and seized weapons, cash and radio sets.india Updated: Jun 15, 2017 20:40 IST
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday blamed intelligence failure for the flare up the hills and claimed there was conspiracy to kill some of her cabinet colleagues during a visit to Darjeeling last week.
Banerjee’s comments came within hours of police raiding the office of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling and seized weapons, cash and radio sets. It has called an indefinite shutdown from Thursday in the hills to protest the police raid.
The GJM is leading a violent agitation in an area it rules under the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), scaling up protests over the government’s alleged attempts to impose Bengali language to renewing the demand for a Gorkhaland state.
“They had designs to attack the ministers on June 8. The administration did not get information about the brewing tension at that time. It was an intelligence failure,” she said at a police function in Kolkata. She did not name the GJM.
The chief minister and more than two dozen ministers were present in Darjeeling on that day when she held a cabinet meeting at the Raj Bhavan.
“Explosives were stockpiled in huge quantities in the hills. I have never seen so many Molotov cocktails being hurled. The attack continued for two hours,” she said referring to the first wave of violence that saw protesters set ablaze government buildings and vehicles.
As the violence escalated over the next few days, the Trinamool government called in the army.
On June 10, the state government removed Darjeeling police chief Amit P Javalgee. The chief minister also set up a committee of three IPS officers to oversee the law and order situation in the hills. All the three officers are camping in the hills.
The opposition BJP, CPI(M) and Congress have blamed the chief minister for triggering the latest bout of unrest in the hills, saying she should handled the Bengali issue carefully, and could have avoided holding a cabinet meeting in the hills.
The violence has come as an embarrassment for the chief minister who had highlighted the relative peace in the volatile north Bengal hills during her tenure.
Addressing residents of Darjeeling, Banerjee urged them not to be misled by subversive forces.
“Those who are triggering panic and spreading violence in the hills are the enemies of locals as it jeopardises their livelihood. Just ignore them,” she said.
First Published: Jun 15, 2017 20:38 IST