Alipurduar: Describing refugees from Assam as guests, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday said her government would stand beside them.
"They are more than our guests, our own people. They don't have shelter now. We all know their mental condition. They are the victim of circumstances, so let us all stand beside them," Banerjee said at Changmari refugee camp in Alipurduar district.
She also made an appeal to local people to help the refugees in whatever way possible and asked officials to ensure that no one was inconvenienced.
When asked by reporters whether the refugees do not want to return to their homes, she said, "They will decide. If they do not want it is their decision. If anyone wants to return, we'll make all the arrangements. They are our own people. More than guests. We have to take care of everything including their food. We want them to stay in peace."
On central government's role in controlling violence, she said, "I do not want to make any political comment here. I do not get into politics all the time. I have come here on humanitarian grounds".
Hit by violence carried out by NDFB(S), refugees from Assam have taken shelter in four camps at Kumargram and Cooch Behar of West Bengal.
From her own savings, the chief minister bought one thousand pieces of winter clothing which she distributed among the refugees.
During her visit, she took stock of the arrangements at the relief camp and instructed officials to arrange all meals on time.
"The food is still not prepared? When would it be ready," she asked officials.
A breastfeeding Adivasi woman was so struck by the trauma that she could not give any answer when the chief minister asked her, "who is accompanying you. Have you come alone?"
Banerjee was accompanied by North Bengal Development Minister Goutam Deb, district magistrate and other officials during the visit.