Mamata talks tough, gives 72-hour deadline to GJM to call off stir; Gurung hits back, threatens janta curfew


Kolkata/Darjeeling: Armed with a Calcutta High Court order to maintain normalcy in Darjeeling hills, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerje on Saturday gave a 72-hour deadline to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to call off its indefinite bandh or else face action. Hitting back at her, the GJM chief Bimal Gurung threatened a 'janta curfew' if this deadline was not withdrawn. 
"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, she 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, she 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," she said.
Asked whether her government would hold talks with the GJM, she 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," she said. Attacking the Centre, she 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 she was declaring the bandh as illegal and unconstitutional. Apparently targeting GJM chief Bimal Gurung, she 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 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)," she said.
Gurung threatens janta curfew
"Mamata Banerjee has to withdraw her statement that the bandh should be withdrawn within 72 hours, or else we will call a janta curfew and the people will remain indoors," Gurung said. Noting that the GJM was not afraid of 'oppression by the state government', he said Banerjee should not have made the statement as chief minister.
"The people in the hills are on the streets. We will continue our movement in a democratic manner," Gurung said. "She has given a deadline of 72 hours. She will be forced to withdraw her ultimatum. The people of the hills are holding a democratic and peaceful movement, but if she tries force, then the people of the hills will give her a fitting reply," said Gurung.
"If she feels that by issuing the ultimatum and letting loose her authoritarian rule she can bend us, then she is wrong. We are ready for it."

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