Siliguri, Sept. 5: The Trinamul Congress today said it would hold two “peace” rallies in the Darjeeling hills to convey a message to the people that the state government and the party were with them and making efforts to restore normalcy in the region.
“We have decided to organise two peace rallies in Kalimpong and Darjeeling after consultation with the top leadership of Trinamul. The rallies will not be a show of strength but they will be held to pass on the message to the people of the hills that Trinamul and the state government are with them and are taking every possible step to bring back normalcy to the region,” north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb said.
He didn’t say when the rallies would be held.
The minister claimed that hill people living in the plains were feeling secure under the Trinamul dispensation. “During the Left Front rule, there had been a deep sense of insecurity among the hill people settled in the plains,” said Deb, who is also the Darjeeling district president of Trinamul.
“Clashes were common during those years. Now there is no such fear among the hill people living in the plains as the state government and Trinamul have taken all necessary measures for their safety,” he said.
The announcement of the rallies came a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee had left Siliguri following a visit to Kalimpong where she was felicitated by the lepcha community.
Deb said the state would soon take a decision on the election to the post of the chief executive of the GTA Sabha.
A meeting to hold the election didn’t take place yesterday as most of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members of the GTA stayed away.
“Yesterday, a report was sent to the government by the GTA principal secretary. The chief minister and senior officials are reviewing it. Going by the words of the chief minister, we can say that a decision is expected in the next few days,” Deb said.
The Congress today suspended its Darjeeling hill unit president, K.B. Chhetri, for six years on the charges of “joining Morcha in its statehood demand”. The Congress is opposed to the division of Bengal. Against this backdrop, Chhetri’s participation in Morcha-led movement amounts to anti-party activities,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said from Delhi.
Hill strike losses
The exchequer had suffered a loss of Rs 69.16 crore in August because of the agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the Darjeeling hills, the state government told Calcutta High Court on Thursday.
State home joint secretary, Nirmalya Ghosal, gave the figure to the court.
The division bench of Chief Justice A.K. Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi had asked the government to take all possible steps to keep the hills normal and restrained the Morcha from disturbing the normalcy by applying force. In the order, the bench had also asked the home department to file an affidavit stating the loss the state had suffered and mentioned that bandh supporters would be liable to compensate for the loss of the government exchequer.