The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha term for KLO talks

Dinhata (Cooch Behar), Dec. 21: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said a dialogue between the state government and the Kamtapuri Liberation Organisation can take place only after the militants surrender arms.

The Kamtapuri People’s Party was killing people in north Bengal in the name of the KLO, asserted the chief minister, while addressing the 17th district conference of the Krishak Sabha at Sanhati Maidan here this afternoon, without naming the KPP.

“They are trying to confuse and misguide the Rajbansi community. They carry firearms and terrorise people, but are actually cowards. After massacring people, they flee to Bhutan,” claimed Bhattacharjee.

“They have close links with other militant organisations. They are being instigated by Pakistani intelligence. But, despite this, we are ready to discuss their grievances, including unemployment and language problems, but only after they surrender arms,” the chief minister said.

Bhattacharjee announced development projects in north Bengal and said a plastic factory would soon be inaugurated in Cooch Behar district. A jute mill would also come up here, he said, adding that a cold storage facility for preserving fruits will be opened shortly.

“We devoted ourselves fully to ameliorate the condition of farmers. But excess production has also become a problem. We have to ensure that the farmers do not suffer as a result of bumper production,” the chief minister said.

Other leaders who addressed the rally include tourism minister Dinesh Dakua, CPM district secretary Chandi Pal, Member of Parliament Tarini Roy and Krishak Sabha district secretary Harish Burman.

Political observers take Bhattacharjee’s trip to this remote area — a Forward Bloc stronghold and the domain of Bloc minister Kamal Guha — as a “well-timed move” to make inroads into the party’s vote bank before the panchayat elections slated for next year.

“The hidden agenda of his visit is to shore up CPM support. The rally was a demonstration of the party’s strength,” said a prominent Forward Bloc leader on condition of anonymity.

Banners, posters and party flags put up all over the town to welcome the chief minister’s second visit to this heritage town gave it a festive look.

The chief minister arrived almost four hours behind the schedule as his flight could not land at Bagdogra airport because of the dense fog.

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