Bullets, jail will not solve problems: Ahluwalia

17 Oct 2017

Union minister and Member of Parliament from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia today warned the West Bengal government of a severe backlash if the state chose to "physically eliminate" people in a bid to douse the fire in its hills.

Hitting out at state chief minister Mamata Banerjee, Ahluwalia said: "Bullets, jail, violence will not solve the problems in hills". The minister of state for drinking water and sanitation said he feared that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung, who is in hiding, might be targeted by the state police. "I fear for his life," the Darjeeling MP said. "The conspiracy of physical elimination will not be tolerated in a democratic setup," Ahluwalia said, reacting to alleged police atrocities in the Darjeeling hills.

A police team conducting a raid in a bid to capture Gurung was allegedly fired at by Gurung's supporters on Friday. A sub-inspector was killed and four policemen were injured. Mamata had on Tuesday said, without taking names, that an MP was helping to spread violence in Darjeeling and its surrounding areas. She had said the BJP was allowing the hills to "burn for the sake of a seat". Ahluwalia accused the Bengal government of "lacking the initiative for conducting political dialogues" and said the problem (in the hills) could only be solved through mutual trust and understanding. "In my 27 years of political life no one has ever raised any question on my conduct," he said.

As an MP, he was duty bound to listen to the grievances of the people of his constituency, he said, adding that talking to the constituents was not a crime. "For me, the people of Naxalbari or Siliguri are as important as the people of Darjeeling or Kurseong," Ahluwalia said.