Darjeeling: Accusing the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha (GJM) of hindering development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Monday appealed to the people of Darjeeling hills to shun shutdowns and open their doors to development.
"We want peace in Darjeeling, we want its children to get an education and the poor to get food. We want Bengal to remain united. For political reasons, doors may be closed. But I appeal to the people to open their doors to development," Banerjee said here.
With life in Darjeeling hills paralysed by the continuous separatist stir led by the GJM, Banerjee said the separatist movement in the hills has been hampering the development of the region.
"First, it was (Subhas) Ghishing (leader of the Gorkhaland National Liberation Front, GNLF) and now (Bimal) Gurung (GJM supremo). I ask: When will development take place? Do not set your house on fire on provocation from outsiders," Banerjee said at the Bagdogra airport.
Banerjee is a on a two-day trip to the Darjeeling hills during which she will attend a felicitation programme organised by the Lepcha community in Kalimpong town.
The Ghising-led GNLF spearheaded the demand for Gorkhaland from the mid-1980s, launching a series of indefinite shutdowns, as violence claimed many lives.
The GJM upstaged the GNLF in 2007-08, and the outfit has been leading the movement since then.
The chief minister also accused the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration - the autonomous hill development council - of deliberately not utilising the Rs.300 crore granted to it for carrying out development work in the region.
Banerjee hit out at Gurung, who had recently said the students were willing to sacrifice their studies for the sake of Gorkhaland.
"They are denying education to the children here. I am shocked to see children being denied education, deprived of their right to go to schools," Banerjee said.