Kolkata : After West Bengal Municipal Affairs Minister Ashok Bhattacharya asked tourists not to visit Darjeeling this summer, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders Friday assured that tourists would be “completely safe”.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said all tourists visiting Darjeeling this summer would be completely safe and would not be affected by the ongoing agitation being held by their party in the hills.
“It is an irresponsible comment of a minister who also hails from the hills. We have never harassed any tourist in Darjeeling. They don’t get affected by any political activities of GJM,” Giri told IANS on phone from Darjeeling Friday.
He said Bhattacharya had no right to ask people not to visit Darjeeling and tourists were always welcome to the queen of hills.
Giri said: “The whole economy of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong – three sub-divisions of the district – are dependent on tourism. How could he make such an irresponsible statement being a member of the state cabinet? He should be immediately sacked.”
Bhattacharya Wednesday said it is possible that the communication between the hills and the plains in Darjeeling district would suffer as the GJM supporters have decided to stop paying all taxes, electricity and telephone bills.
The minister advised tourists against visiting the hill station as they would face problems like scarcity of drinking water, frequent power cuts and traffic bottlenecks due to road blockades by the GJM supporters.
“The situation is absolutely normal here as far as the tourism is concerned,” retorted Giri.
The fast unto death programme of the morcha supporters entered the second day Friday. It was started May 1 to protest the state government’s decision to disallow GJM from holding any political programme in Siliguri.
The GJM, led by its party president Bimal Gurung, had been spearheading the movement in the hills in demand of a separate state. It is opposed to sixth schedule status for Darjeeling.
The central government in 2005 announced sixth schedule status to the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) that ensures greater autonomy to the governing body.