Mamata begins Darjeeling tour, meets political parties

Sunday, September 26, 2010

DARJEELING - Union Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, who arrived here on a two-day visit Sunday, met leaders of all the political parties in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district.

Mamata held discussions with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) at the Circuit House Sunday evening.

The GJM is spearheading the movement for the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland comprising three subdivisions of the hilly areas of Darjeeling district - Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling.

The Trinamool chief, however, did not reveal what transpired at the meetings.

She said that she had not come to Darjeeling as a representative of the central government but to initiate several projects for the development of the hill town.

“I love the Darjeeling Hills and its people. I want to hear their problems from their own mouths,” said the railway minister.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, who was among the 27-member delegation that met the railway minister, said: “We have discussed measures for the development of the region and she assured us that several railway projects would be taken up.”

“We have not discussed the Gorkhaland issue. Our discussions will continue and we will take up this issue later,” he added.

GJM spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chetri said: “Due to landslides on National Highway-55, the toy train services have remained suspended for a long period. We urged her to take measures to resume the train services quickly.”

Sources in the GJM said that the party had demanded inclusion of Dooars and Terai regions in the proposed interim set-up for the Darjeeling Hills.

Meanwhile, ABGL president Bharati Tamang said: “She expressed grief over the death of my husband (former party president Madan Tamang) and assured that she would do her best to initiate an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the killing.”

Madan Tamang was allegedly killed by the GJM leaders May 21. A complaint was also filed holding 10 GJM leaders responsible for the killing.

The railway minister will lay the foundation stone of a multi-functional complex and inaugurate a toy train -”Pahari Kanyya” (daughter of the hills) at the Darjeeling station.

Earlier in the morning, she was given a rousing welcome by the GJM supporters.

Her convoy, which started from the New Jalpaiguri railway station amid tight security, was greeted by hundreds of GJM supporters lined-up along the Hill Cart Road leading to Darjeeling.

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