The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CM sees statehood threat

Cooch Behar, Sept. 24: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today publicly acknowledged that the movement for a separate state spearheaded by the Greater Cooch Behar People's Association has become a new threat to Bengal.

Bhattacharjee stressed that the Ulfa and other extremist organisations were also involved in this movement for a separate state.

The agitation had led to the death of five persons in violence during a hungerstrike on September 20.

After the Maoists in the western districts of the state and the Kamtapuris in north Bengal, the Greater Cooch Behar demand 'is a new movement that has to be quelled for the peace and progress of the state', Bhattacharjee said at a rally at the Airport ground.

There was unprecedented security amid apprehensions that the association members might try to create trouble at the venue at which nearly one lakh people had gathered.

The chief minister appealed to 'everyone, including the misled supporters of the new movement', not to encourage the 'sudden demand' for a new state.

'Why was it necessary for them to brew a movement for their demand over the last few months, when for 58 years they have been quiet' he asked.

The chief minister recognised that the root cause for separatism was poverty and unemployment and promised some development projects for the area.

'Much work has to be done for the state and for Cooch Behar. The airport here will be coming up here after the Pujas, assisting the growth of industry and opportunity in the region,' Bhattacharjee said.

'The quality of jute here is good, and some industrialists have expressed willingness to promote the fibre. Plastic is another area that has to be encouraged,' he said.

Agriculture minister Kamal Guha advised the chief minister to take a new approach to the development of the district. 'The chief minister is known for his do-it-now approach. I must tell him that he must do it now for Cooch Behar. Development here has been slow, leading to the growth of divisive forces,' he said.

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