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‘BJP trying to divide Bengal’: Mamata opposes pull-out of forces from Darjeeling

Mamata Banerjee said she had specific information that “a central minister” was perpetuating turbulence in the hills just to ensure BJP’s victory in the constituency.

kolkata Updated: Oct 16, 2017 20:14 IST
Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday criticised the Centre for withdrawing paramilitary forces from Darjeeling. (Samir Jana/HT PHOTO)

Bengal chief minister launched a broadside at BJP on Monday opposing the Centre’s decision to withdraw central forces from north Bengal hills and accusing the ruling party at the Centre of conspiring to divide Bengal. She also emphasised that Darjeeling is an inseparable part of Bengal.

There are 15 companies of central forces in Darjeeling and the Centre wrote to Bengal on Sunday conveying its decision to withdraw 10 companies immediately and the rest by October 20. After the state government objected, the Centre decided to initially withdraw seven companies.

Read: Jan Andolan Party to skip Monday’s bipartite meeting, questions state govt’s motive

“I have written to both the Prime Minister and Union home minister, where I have said the withdrawal of the central forces from the hills is unfortunate especially at a time was life is returning to normal there. The decision was unfortunate, unethical, undemocratic and unconstitutional,” she said to reporters after a meeting with the hill parties at the state secretariat.

“I also had a telephonic discussion with the Union home minister, whom I know as a good person and I hope something positive will come from Centre’s side now,” added Mamata Banerjee.

Without naming anyone, the chief minister said that she has got specific information that “a central minister” is perpetuating turbulence in the hills just to ensure BJP’s victory in the constituency.

Read: Govt orders withdrawal of 1,000 paramilitary personnel from Darjeeling

“We have got specific evidence. If necessary, we will make the proof public at the appropriate time,” she claimed.

The chief minister also accused the BJP state president Dilip Ghosh of triggering disturbance in the hills. “A report was sent to the Centre from the BJP party office in the state, following which the decision to withdraw the central forces was taken,” alleged the chief minister.

Ghosh reacted in the evening, saying the state failed to maintain law and order and used the Central forces to save its skin. “You cannot use Central forces to salvage a crisis after taking anti-people measures,” retorted Ghosh.

Banerjee participated in the third meeting with three hill parties on Monday. The next meeting will be held at Pintail village in north Bengal on November 21.

Mamata Banerjee also criticised the Centre for entertaining Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung. “While the Centre can have dialogue with someone booked under UA(P)A, why can’t they talk to those forces who are democratic?”

Read: Bengal BJP chief accuses TMC government of trying to eliminate Bimal Gurung

Gurung is on the run for the past few weeks after being charged under the anti-terror Act.

“If smaller states such as Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh or even Delhi can have so many companies of central forces, why do they always withdraw forces from Bengal?” the chief minister asked.

The bipartite meetings are being held even while the hill parties are demanding tripartite meetings that Union home minister Rajnath Singh had promised. In a statement on September 26, Singh said he asked the Union home secretary to convene a meeting to discuss “all related issues” of Darjeeling within a fortnight. In the same statement, he appealed to Gurung to withdraw the bandh. Gurung responded and called off the indefinite strike the next morning.

First Published: Oct 16, 2017 18:15 IST