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Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha repeats plea for peace

Jalpaiguri, Dec. 24: Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today invited the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders to “run the hills” after contesting elections there.

“They should stop adopting a strategy of calling strikes at regular intervals, which is affecting the development of the region. Tourism has been severely affected because of the shutdowns and the common man is encountering numerous problems,” said Bhattacharjee at a public meeting convened by the Jalpaiguri District CPM at Aurobindo Byamagar O Pathagar Club grounds here this afternoon.

“I would ask them to try and make the tripartite talks, scheduled in Delhi for December 29, fruitful. We had been staying together and will continue to do so. They (Morcha) must work for holding elections in the hills, contest it and if they secure a majority, they are free to run the hills. But creating impasses by calling strikes will not be of much help,” he added.

Like in the December 7 meeting in Siliguri, this time, too, the chief minister did not mention the Morcha by name.

In today’s meeting that witnessed a footfall of around 50,000 people, the chief minister said some KLO militants were still “sitting with arms in Bangladesh”.

“We witnessed a bloodshed during the time the KLO was active and a vile attempt was made to sever the Rajbangshis from the mainstream. Most of the youths who took that path (armed struggle) returned, but a few are still sitting in Bangladesh,” he said. “It is better that they come back to the mainstream for by taking up arms, they cannot progress too far.”

The agitation in the hills has triggered a hue and cry in the Dooars with several communities surfacing with various demands, Bhattacharjee said. “We would like to make it clear that these organisations are trying to split us. It is our duty to ensure that peace and amity prevails in the region.”

On a different note, the chief minister insisted that bilateral talks should be held with Bhutan to curb the flash floods in Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar caused by rivers coming down from the Himalayan kingdom.

“Bhutan’s mining of dolomites and felling trees in the upper reaches of the hill causes floods every year in the plains, that is, in our districts,” he said. “Our officials have mentioned the problem to their counterparts in Bhutan but nothing has improved. This cannot be allowed to go on. Something has to be done through bilateral talks.”

On the Teesta Barrage Project, Bhattacharjee said the state government has secured funds from the Centre.

Referring to job scopes in the state, Bhattacharjee described the Trinamul Congress as the “most irresponsible political party” and said there were hardly any issue on which the outfit expressed consensus with the state government.

“They are not concerned about the thousands of youths who do not care about the CPM or Trinamul agenda or the equation between the two parties. What they want is employment. If we consider what Trinamul is saying, we will have to ask them to take to agriculture,” the chief minister, who was on a two-day tour of the region said.

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