Mamata Banerjee issues 72-hour deadline to GJM, says she 'will not give up Darjeeling'

Kolkata, Aug. 10 (ANI): West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday issued a 72-hour deadline to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), who is protesting for a separate statehood for Gorkhaland, to call off its indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling area.

Banerjee appealed for peace in Darjeeling, which is on its eighth day of shutdown, saying that there is no difficulty to have talks on the issue after the bandh is called off.

"We are ready to talk, as before, so long as the Bandh is withdrawn. ...I will not give up Darjeeling," Banerjee said.

Banerjee has maintained that separate statehood is not on the cards because Darjeeling is an integral part of West Bengal.

"Two or three political leaders cannot create confusion among the people to make their life hell. Beyond our political responsibility, we have the more important responsibility to stand by our people. I can sacrifice everything for the public. I am ready to sacrifice myself but I cannot sacrifice the people, please remember. That is why it is our caution, our appeal and our request (to withdraw the bandh within 72 hours). I think that they will listen to us. The state government is not guardian-less. Darjeeling is not guardian-less. Bengal is not guardian-less. Democratic government is the guardian in this state," Banerjee said.

Darjeeling has been paralyzed for eight days after GJM had ordered an indefinite shutdown in protest for a separate state, after the Central Government made their decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh.

"Let the brothers and sisters of Darjeeling live in peace. Bandhs do not help any cause. Remember that Darjeeling is our heart. Darjeeling is a part and parcel of India and West Bengal. Let our state be happy with the develop, prosperity and progress," Banerjee added.

Banerjee also warned that she would be compelled to take action, as per her constitution obligations, against the GJM if the bandh is not called off within 72 hours.

GJM called an indefinite bandh pressing their demand for Gorkhaland as a separate state to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts of northern West Bengal.

After the decision to carve out Telangana from Andhra Pradesh was made public, the demand for creation of other states has grown louder throughout the country. There have been demands and protests to divide Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Assam and West Bengal. (ANI)