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Deb visit to calm hills

Darjeeling, May 23: Minister Gautam Deb called on a driver whose house and car were set ablaze allegedly by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters, a day after a hill Trinamul leader criticised plains-based party satraps for not visiting the region.

On May 20, the house and car of Dhanbahadur Tamang were torched.

A day later, Milan Dukpa, a nominated GTA Sabha member from Trinamul, criticised the party’s style of functioning, raising questions on whether there was a rift in the party.

“Our supporters are being threatened and attacked. One of our sympathisers’ house was burnt down in Badamtam last night but Rajen Mukhia (the convener of Trinamul, hills) and Binny Sharma (spokesman for the party hill unit) are in Siliguri issuing press statements. I strongly protest their style of functioning,” Dukpa said.

Today Deb, along with Mukhia and other hill Trinamul leaders such as N.B. Khawash visited Badamtam, 16km from here, where Tamang lives.

Asked about Dukpa’s comment, Deb said: “Ours is a democratic party where people can hold different views. However, I called up Dukpa and told him that any misgivings should be discussed within the party. These are not things that one should speak about in the media.”

Deb defended Mukhia .

“What is the problem if he stays in Panighatta (near Siliguri). He went to Mungpoo immediately (after a clash between Trinaumul and Morcha cadres) on Monday. I, too, returned to Siliguri from Calcutta only yesterday and I have immediately come up to Darjeeling,” the north Bengal development minister said.

Trinamul has decided to hold the district committee meeting at Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan Hall hall at 11am tomorrow.

Deb today lambasted the Morcha. “What will the Morcha get by burning a vehicle, which was the only source of income for this tribal family?” he asked.

Gurung tree appeal

Bimal Gurung appealed to the people of the Darjeeling hills to protest against the government’s move to fell trees at Chowrasta to set up a hawkers’ market.

“Throughout the world, people are working towards protecting the environment. The move to fell trees at Chowrasta is deplorable,” Gurung said.

Several Darjeeling residents had on Thursday opposed contractors’ attempt to mark two trees for felling to make way for a state -funded market complex at Chowrasta.