West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Pic/PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday condemned the vandalism unleashed by the Gorkha Janmukti Morch (GJM), alleging "deep-rooted conspiracy" and "links with terrorists" as violence took centre-stage in the north West Bengal hills amid the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown.
She said her government is ready to initiate a dialogue with the party but in a conducive environment.
Banerjee, who chaired a high level meet at the state secretariat in Nabanna of the various development boards of the hills, said an all-party meeting will be held in Siliguri on June 22 to discuss the growing unrest in the hills.
Coming down heavily on the GJM violence, Banerjee said: "This is a deep-rooted conspiracy. So much of arms and ammunition couldn't have come in a single day. There is an international border and state border. They are violating the Constitution. They are only hurling bombs. They are stockpiling illegal arms and bombs."
About dialogue, she said: "We are ready but not under the current situation."
Banerjee alleged the GJM had connections with the northeast insurgent groups as well as a "foreign" link.
"We have come to know from the police that there is a link with terrorists. I am told there is a connection with underground insurgents from northeast India. I have requested that they should not extend any support in Darjeeling," she said.
"Development work will continue and there should be an end to this deep-rooted conspiracy in the hills. In this matter, the central and state government must come together," she said.
Banerjee also slammed GJM supporters for "insulting" the national flag.
"They aren't listening to the court (Calcutta High Court) even after it passed an order saying the bandh is illegal. Don't know from where they get support. They are using the national flag for vandalism. We are proud of our national flag... How can they throw bombs at the national flag? How can they do it?
"I will urge the central government not to encourage them to behave like this. If anything happens to any tourist (foreigner) it will bring a bad name to the country. They (GJM) have stopped tourism, transport, drinking water supply and food. The GJM supporters burnt down the primary health centre. Media persons are in danger, they are being blackmailed and threatened," she said.
Urging the people in the hills to not listen to the GJM leadership, she also denied reports of police firing.
"That is absolutely wrong. They (GJM) started firing. We can't support those who are indulging in violence and hooliganism," she said.
Later in the day at a programme to honour journalists, Banerjee reiterated the unrest is a "deep-rooted conspiracy" and that "some people in the hills are trying to break up Bengal."
She also asserted she will not be intimidated by threats.
"If someone tries to scare me with a gun, the person may not realise that I have it in me to snatch away the gun," she said.
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