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Blame on CM for hill protest

Siliguri, Jan. 29: The CPM said Mamata Banerjee’s failure to understand the sentiments of the people in the hills and disregard for the GTA in the conduct of the Uttarbanga Utsav triggered the protest at the inauguration of the fest today.

“The chief minister’s overconfidence and her pathetic understanding of the sentiments of the people in the hills led to today’s incident. In an unabashed manner, she had ignored the GTA and its representatives, undermined the autonomous body and gone ahead with the Uttarbanga Utsav in Darjeeling,” said former state minister and CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya.

He said the festival had been organised in GTA territory without involving the hill body. “Bimal Gurung and others were simply invitees to the event, which has left the people disgruntled. Interestingly, all departments, except north Bengal development, which are partners of the festival, have been transferred to the GTA. We don’t believe Mamata Banerjee was unaware of these facts but it is her overconfidence that has led to the re-emergence of the crisis in the hills,” said Bhattacharya.

The CPM leader said the distribution of secured land pattas, and the opening of a tourist spot at Lamahata in Kalimpong and a minority building in Darjeeling should have been done by the GTA, and not the state, as the departments concerned were run by the hill body.

Surjya Kanta Mishra, the leader of Opposition in the Assembly, said in Islampur that the chief minister was surely performing shradh in the name of festivals. “She is using public money of the cash-strapped government to perform the shradh of the common people.”

Reacting to the incident in Darjeeling, the Kamtapur People’s Party said the Rajbangshi people in north Bengal were as aggrieved as the hill people. ‘If nothing is done for them by the state government, the chief minister might have to witness similar protests in future,” said KPP president Atul Roy. The Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad also said tribal people were becoming restless with the non-fulfilment of commitments by the government and warned of a movement against the rulers.