Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Mamata Banerjee calls for peace in Darjeeling as she heads overseas

The Gorkhaland protests have pushed Darjeeling to the brink of collapse, with widespread violence erupting in the picturesque hill station for the first time in nearly three decades. "I don't differentiate between the hill people and others. Instead of playing with fire, peace should be safeguarded", Banerjee said.

Sikkim government sources in Gangtok said they had yesterday requested their West Bengal counterpart to provide security to vehicles passing through Darjeeling district in NH 31A in view of the GJM agitation. Though the government denied any police firing on Saturday, the agitated Gorkha people were now demanding removal of para-military forces from the Hills. The police rejected the allegation of firing by its personnel, and said one person was killed during the clashes.

The GJM has claimed that two of its supporters were shot dead by the police in Singmari on Saturday.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday urged people of Darjeeling to remain calm and peaceful.

"Since the violence is not coming to an end in Darjeeling, the Gorkhas are having an alliance with the BJP". But the leadership expressed willingness to talk with the central government. Mr Singh in a twitter account said he had also spoken to the Chief Minster twice over the week-end for an update on the situation in Darjeeling.

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"I would like to appeal to everyone in the mountains to kindly maintain peace".

The GJM announced an indefinite strike from Monday encompassing Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and the Dooars protesting against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's decision to make Bengali language compulsory in state-run schools.

"In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution".

Ms Banerjee was flown to the Hague on an United Nations programme where she will address the Public Service Day on June 22.

Regarding the situation in Darjeeling, the Chief Minister said, "Duties have been evenly distributed to everybody".

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