Mamata accuses Sikkim of backing Gorkhaland stir, vows to establish state varsity in Darjeeling | Hindustan Times
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Mamata accuses Sikkim of backing Gorkhaland stir, vows to establish state varsity in Darjeeling

The Bengal chief minister also accused the Modi government of ignoring the plight of people in the region.

kolkata Updated: Feb 07, 2018 18:08 IST
Pramod Giri
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee delivers an address at a prize distribution ceremony in Chowrastra, Darjeeling, on Wednesday.
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee delivers an address at a prize distribution ceremony in Chowrastra, Darjeeling, on Wednesday. (HT Photo)

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Sikkim government of inciting trouble in the Darjeeling hills during her first visit to the region in eight months on Wednesday.

Delivering a 17-minute-long speech at a prize distribution ceremony in Chowrasta, Banerjee warned the neighbouring state against “interfering” in the region’s internal matters by backing Gorkhaland agitators. “There are both internal and external forces that desire unrest in Darjeeling hills. Sikkim benefits from violence and bandhs here, and that is why it gives money to troublemakers. Why do you want unrest here when I am all for peace in your state?” she asked.

Banerjee, who is here on a three-day visit, will leave on Thursday.

The chief minister also accused the Modi government of ignoring the plight of Darjeeling residents.“Stop seeking alms from the Centre and I will establish a state university in Darjeeling. Though the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) has been demanding a central university in the hills, the Union government has failed to approve one,” she said.

Banerjee’s relations with Sikkim soured after its chief minister, Pawan Chamling, shot off a letter advocating the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state to Union home minister Rajnath Singh last year. The Bengal government retaliated by sending another letter denouncing the neighbouring state for “meddling” in its affairs.

The Mamata Banerjee government believes that Bimal Gurung, a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, enjoys the Sikkim government’s patronage. After spending most of his time hiding in Sikkim since June 2017, he is currently camping in the national capital.

The chief minister handed over compensation cheques of Rs 2 lakh each to families of five of the 13 people killed during last year’s Gokhaland agitation on Wednesday. Although the GTA had shortlisted the names of nine deceased, a few families rejected the compensation offer.

Gurung was quick to react to Banerjee’s speech. “I will continue to fight for Gorkhaland. I will pay homage to our martyrs by creating a separate state for us,” he said in a press release.