Kolkata, March 12: Giving a stern message to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which has raised its old demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Tuesday said any efforts at reviving the separatist movement would not go down well with the people.
“People want to come to Darjeeling. This year so many tourists came to Darjeeling. So, if someone wants to revive a separatist movement, it won’t go down well with the public,” Banerjee told media persons at the airport in Bagdogra town of Darjeeling district.
Banerjee said her government wanted the Darjeeling hills to remain peaceful.
“Because tourists came in large numbers, hoteliers, transporters and other people connected with tourism did good business. Their income has increased. I feel there is need for peace in Darjeeling,” she said on way to Kalimpong in the district for an administrative meeting.
Alleging that the state government was infringing on the rights of the newly formed hill development body, the Gorkha Territorial administration, the GJM has revived the demand for Gorkhaland to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northern West Bengal.
The GJM got angry after Banerjee came to Darjeeling in January and distributed land title deeds.
The GJM supporters raised slogans demanding Gorkhaland at the programme, following which Banerjee warned that she could be “rough and tough”.
This comment further infuriated the GJM, and its top leaders met President Pranab Mukherjee, union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and other senior Congress leaders in New Delhi recently to press for their demand.
The dragging campaign for Gorkhaland has led to the loss of many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting the region’s economic mainstays – tea, timber and tourism.
On July 18, 2012, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA — a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.
The GJM now runs the GTA after sweeping its maiden territorial elections in July 2012.