ALSO READDarjeeling a war zone as 'beware Mamata, we want Gorkhaland' slogans echo Gorkhaland: GJM on indefinite strike in Darjeeling, want tourists to leave Darjeeling bandh: GJM supporters set ablaze, shut govt offices; 3 arrested Darjeeling unrest: GJM takes out rally with body of activist GJM strike in Darjeeling enters day 8: Mamata Banerjee flies to Netherlands
Stating that an "undeclared bandh" in Darjeeling hills has affected many lives, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday urged the hill parties to shun violence and come to the discussion table. She told the state assembly that there had been a loss of Rs 550 crore and that the state administration had shown restraint. Schools, offices and tourism had come to a halt due to the bandh, she maintained while speaking on the current impasse in the Darjeeling hills. The indefinite shutdown in the hills called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other hill parties demanding a separate Gorkhaland entered its 55th day today. Banerjee said Darjeeling had been a part of West Bengal and she would not allow its division. She said such kind of agitation in the hills had become common in a 10-15 year interval, adding that the time has come for election to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration as its five-year-term comes to an end. The TMC supremo praised the Congress for not politicising the issue while hitting out at the CPI(M) for trying to fish in troubled waters. CPI(M) member and Siliguri mayor Ashok Bhattacharya alleged that the situation in the hills had become worse than before. He blamed the chief minister for raising the language issue in the hills which "was not well taken and resulted in the current stalemate". Bhattacharya's statement drew flak from the ruling party members who tried to hoot him down. Congress MLA Shankar Malakar said it was not the time for pointing fingers against each other as the situation had gone beyond anybody's control, and that the time had come for all political parties and the Centre to arrive at a solution. Banerjee said constructive suggestion by the Congress was welcome. She also hit back at the CPI(M) for misleading the House, asserting that the state government had not issued any notification on any language. Her statement irked the Left members who staged a walk- out from the assembly. Speaker Biman Banerjee said that by staging a walk-out, the CPI(M) and other Left members failed to show political courtesy.