Deb lights the lamp at the opening of the state disaster risk reduction congress in Jalpaiguri on Friday. Picture by Biplab Basak
April 27: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today held the CPM and RSP responsible for the violence in the Dooars during the bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Deb told reporters in Jalpaiguri that he had specific information about who instigated the violence in Banarhat and Oodlabari.
“I had specific information that the violence had been masterminded by the CPM and RSP to embarrass the state government. They do not want us to carry out development in the Dooars. That is their design,” said Deb.
He also blamed a section of Intuc leaders who he said were openly supporting the forces opposed to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. “Some senior leaders of the Intuc have been openly siding with the anti-GTA forces,” said Deb. He was alluding to Darjeeling Intuc president Alok Chakrabarty, who has been holding joint media conferences with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad and the KPP, outfits that are part of an anti-GTA forum.
A district committee member of the Jalpaiguri CPM, Salil Acharya, said Deb’s statement was not based on facts.
“The Trinamul Congress has no base in tea gardens and they are trying to create trouble in the Dooars with the active involvement of the Morcha and the rebel faction of the Parishad to get a foothold in the region. The state government has ignored the sentiments of the people in the Dooars by leaving out the MLAs and MPs from the region from its high-powered committee looking into the Morcha’s territorial demand. That is why they had been opposing the bandh,” said Acharya.
RSP district president Sunil Banik also rubbished the Deb’s claim.
“By allowing Bimal Gurung and John Barla to hold public meetings in Kalchini yesterday, the state government had gone against the law. Now the minister is trying to create confusion by spreading canards against us,” Banik said.
A senior RSP leader said his party and Citu, the CPM trade wing, had suffered setbacks at Oodlabari in Malbazar and Banarhat in Kalchini, the two spots where the trouble had erupted.
“While the Citu and Intuc are virtually non-existent in Malbazar, the RSP and the Intuc have no base in Kalchini. Workers have switched allegiance either to the Morcha’s Darjeeling Terai Dooars Tea Workers’ Union or the Parishad’s Progressive Tea Workers’ Union. There had been further division in the Parishad’s union after John Barla decided to go with the Morcha. So it is incorrect to say trouble was fomented by the CPM and the RSP,” the leader said.
Former minister and CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya said in Siliguri that the withdrawal of the strike by the Morcha seemed like a “got-up game”.
“The decision of the Morcha to withdraw the strike after the administration allowed Bimal Gurung to hold public rallies in the Dooars yesterday is nothing but a got up game. The strike was called on the issue of denying the Morcha permission to hold public meetings and then the administration looked the other way while the meeting was held. We strongly believe that this was stage-managed by the state government and the Morcha,” Bhattacharya said.