Mamata orders vigil on Assam border
Siliguri: Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday asked officials in the areas on the Assam border to be vigilant against outsiders "who are distributing money with wrong intentions".
The Bengal chief minister has given the directive at a review meeting of Alipurduar district in Siliguri.
"We have information that outsiders are sneaking into Alipurduar district from Assam and a section of them is distributing money with wrong intentions. You (block development officers and police on the border) should be on alert and roam in your areas on a regular basis and talk to people so that inputs about the outsiders come to you," she said.
Mamata's warning comes in the wake of the BJP's decent performance in certain blocks of Alipurduar, especially Kumargram, on the Assam border in the recent rural polls.
During the campaign for the panchayat elections, the BJP had highlighted the development works carried out by the Assam government in rural belts.
"The BJP is focussing on north Bengal and there is always a chance that it might try to consolidate the support base in the border areas by using the party machinery in Assam. This is what Mamata wants to stop as was evident from her instruction to the administration and the police that they should keep a tab on people from the neighbouring state," said an observer.
At the meeting, the chief minister also hinted that her government had taken the task of addressing another important issue - the demand of employment and rehabilitation by former militants of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, many of whom live in Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts.
"Their issue has been dealt with.....they will be provided with some jobs........ ask them to come to Uttarkanya (the north Bengal branch secretariat in Siliguri) on Thursday," Mamata said in reply to a question raised by Mohan Sharma, the sabhadhipati of Trinamul-led Alipurduar zilla parishad.
In the panchayat elections, particularly in Kumargram block, the grievances of the former militants worked to the advantage of the BJP.
As the chief minister was briefed by district Trinamul leaders, including Sharma, on the issue, it was decided that they would be provided with jobs as "special home guard volunteers".
"The process started and on Wednesday, we were called to Alipurduar where our physical measurements were recorded. On Thursday, we were supposed to have our medical check-up but we were informed by district police officials that we would have to go to Uttarkanya where it would be held later," said a former militant.
In total, sources said, over 50 such former militants would be made "special home guard volunteers".
"The former militants were a disgruntled lot. Now that the state is addressing their issue and offering them jobs, it is obvious that the Trinamul Congress will benefit, particularly in areas like the Kumargram block," said the observer.
In course of the meeting, the chief minister also expressed concern over the highhandedness of land mafia in and around Siliguri.
Additional reporting by Anirban Choudhury in Alipurduar