Mamata talks tough, 72-hr deadline to GJM to call off stir

Armed with a Kolkata high court order to maintain normalcy in Darjeeling hills, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday gave a 72-hour deadline to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to call off its indefinite bandh or else face action.

“Enough is enough. I have tolerated for eight days. I am very rough and tough. I am giving 72 hours to withdraw the bandh. Do not force me to take strong action,” Banerjee told a press conference at the state secretariat.

Ruling out division of Bengal, Banerjee said, “Darjeeling is part and parcel of West Bengal. Darjeeling is my heart. There can be no division of the state based on race.”

Claiming that the GJM had become unpopular in the hills for forcibly enforcing the bandh which was leading to harassment and hardship to the people there, Banerjee cited the high court order to ensure normal life in Darjeeling.

“I have some constitutional obligations. There is a high court order and also a Supreme Court order on bandhs,” Banerjee said.

Asked whether her government would hold talks with the GJM, Banerjee said, “There is no difficulty in holding talks if they withdraw the bandh. They can approach the chief secretary and the home secretary. I have visited Darjeeling 25 times and will go again,” Banerjee said.

Attacking the Centre, Banerjee referred to “some politicians” and said, “Do not try to play the divide and rule politics. Let us stick with unity and think unity.”

The chief minister said that in the light of the high court order on shut downs Banerjee was declaring the bandh as illegal and unconstitutional.

Apparently targeting GJM chief Bimal Gurung, Banerjee said, “I have to act as per government obligations. However big a leader with a long tail which he has tied elsewhere, his tail will be cut.”

The chief minister said, “I am also asking some central government agencies not to interfere in the state’s business. Allow us to maintain law and order, peace and prosperity of the state,” Banerjee said.

With Darjeeling having one Lok Sabha seat where BJP leader Jaswant Singh is the current MP, she warned that no one should go for an understanding with the GJM eyeing the constituency.

“Do not try to play mischief for one seat. Do not try break (the state),” Banerjee said.

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