Chopra (West Bengal), Aug 1 (IANS) Expressing concern over the situation in the north Bengal hills amid the ongoing agitation for Gorkhaland, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday appealed to all hill parties to shun violence and unrest and restore normalcy in the region.
“What is the point in creating unrest by spreading violence? I would like to appeal to all the political parties to bring back the normal flow of life in the hills, restore peace and take people out of their misery. The common people are not at fault,” Banerjee said at a public meeting here in North Dinajpur district on the first day of her ongoing tour of north Bengal.
“The tea garden workers are not getting food as more than half the tea gardens there are locked out, schools and colleges are closed, business has stopped, tourism has stopped, hotels are shut, transport is disrupted… What is going on,” she said.
Claiming that betterment of common people was considered the biggest success of any movement, Banerjee urged the hill parties to stop running the movement solely for political gains.
“Why are you resorting to such a movement? When people do not have food or work, continuing a movement for political gains is not correct,” she said.
Terming Darjeeling as an “international brand”, Banerjee said: “I will surely do whatever I can. But I cannot do anything that would cause unrest and disturbance.”
Voicing her love for the north Bengal hills, the Trinamool Congress supremo said it would continue to be part of West Bengal in the future, stating that she must stop the state from getting divided even at the cost of her life.
“I love the hills like I love the rest of Bengal. Do not think that the hills are not part of us. The hills have been part of us and they will continue to be part of us. Dividing something into pieces does not solve any problem,” Banerjee said.
“No matter what happens… I am ready to give away my life but I am not ready to divide the state into pieces,” she claimed.
Talking about Siliguri region in the plains of Darjeeling, the Chief Minister said it should be kept safe and secured as the place is close to borders of multiple foreign countries.
“Siliguri is the chicken’s neck. It is the bordering area of multiple states and countries including the Northeast. That’s why it is our duty to keep it safe,” she clarified.
Banerjee last visited the hills on June 8, the day the Morcha supporters clashed with police outside the venue where the Chief Minister met her cabinet. The incident led to a flare-up and the subsequent call of indefinite shutdown in the hills.