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Centre ready to intervene in Darjeeling

Mamata’s claim of insurgent elements being involved is serious, Ahluwalia says

Gulf News

Dubai: India’s federal government is ready to intervene in helping resolve the sudden deterioration in the law-and-order situation in Darjeeling.

Speaking to Gulf News from New Delhi on Saturday, S.S. Ahluwalia, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and a Bharatiya Janata Party member of parliament from Darjeeling, said: “In her statement in Kolkata on Saturday, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, claimed that there is evidence of insurgent elements from northeastern India being involved in the current violence in Darjeeling. That is a serious allegation and the central government would like to take cognisance of her views and step in to help find a solution to the problem.”

Ahluwalia’s comments came after a meeting between him and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Roshan Giri at the former’s residence on Saturday to review the current situation in Darjeeling.

GJM has sought the central government’s intervention to find a solution to the current imbroglio in the colonial-era Himalayan hill station in West Bengal, which has seen violent protests and indefinite general strikes for the last week over demands by GJM for a separate Gorkhaland state within India.

Earlier in the day, Giri told Gulf News: “We have demanded central government intervention. Police atrocities and indiscriminate firing are being used to portray this as a law-and-order problem, when the problem is actually political in nature.”

Elaborating on the need for central intervention in Darjeeling, Ahluwalia said: “Three days ago, a proposal was sent to the Bengal Government to attend a tripartite meeting in New Delhi over the Darjeeling crisis, but the chief minister refused to attend the call. I hope now that she has raised such a serious complaint of cross-border elements being involved in the unrest in Darjeeling, it is no longer just a state issue. If the Central Government now calls a meeting, she should attend.”

Giri refused to accept the Government of West Bengal’s contention that GJM had resorted to violence. “Our protest was peaceful, but the State Government conducted raids on our offices and prevented us from visiting our party headquarters,” he said.

A cache or arms was recovered following a police raid on the GJM headquarters in Patlebas, Darjeeling, on Thursday.