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Mamata gives GJM 72-hour ultimatum to withdraw Darjeeling shutdown
Saturday August 10, 2013 7:53 PM, IANS

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday gave a 72-hour ultimatum to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to withdraw its indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling hills, failing which the government will be "compelled to take strong action".

"I give them 72 hours to withdraw their shutdown. We have tolerated for eight days enough is enough. I cannot tolerate the whole state suffering forthe political interests of a few," Banerjee told media persons here.

"If they do not withdraw the shutdown, then as per the court's order we will be compelled to take strong action... when required we have to take strong medicines," said Banerjee citing a Calcutta High Court directive asking the state government to ensure there was no forcible shutdown.

With GJM supremo Bimal Gurung having resigned as the chief executive of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) - an autonomous and elected hill development council - Banerjee said the "next man" will be asked to take over.

"As per the GTA agreement we will ask the next man to take over," said Banerjee though she did not reveal who the next man was.

She said the economy of the region was suffering due to the shutdown and without naming the GJM, accused it of holding the region to ransom.

"From education to economy, everything is suffering just because of the political interest of a few. I thought better sense will prevail... I thought the situation will improve.

"From children to traders to the common man, nobody wants shutdown. Just a few people who have lost their popularity are holding the region to ransom," said Banerjee.

She also warned "some central politicians" not to indulge in the politics of divide and rule, and asked central agencies "not to interfere", dubbing the demand for a separate state as unreasonable.

"On the basis of a community or language, a separate state cannot be allowed. If it is allowed, then everybody will start demanding a separate state. The country cannot run like this," she said.

Banereje said she was all for democratic agitation, but opposed to shutdowns and other such disruptive methods.

"Darjeeling will have to be opened. We will not support any shutdown. I hope everything will be opened by Monday. If not, then abiding by the court's order and constitutional obligation, we will take strong steps.

In a veiled warning to the top GJM leadership, she said anybody trying to obstruct the state's development, will face the music.

"Whoever tries to create hurdles in the way of the state's development will notbe spared, no matter how big a leader he is. Nobody has the right to snatch people's bread. We will clip the wings of such persons," she said.

She also accused the GJM of using money to keep alive its agitation.

"First they are snatching the people's bread and later promising money. From where are they getting the money? The administration knows from where this money is coming," added Banerjee.

Banerjee said her government was open for dialogues with the GJM provided it withdrew the shutdown first.

Life in North Bengal's Darjeeling hills has been crippled since last Saturday after the GJM called an indefinite shutdown demanding a separate Gorkhaland following the Congress and the UPA endorsing the creation of a separate Telangana.

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