West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee left for Alipurduar on Friday afternoon to visit and inspect the relief camps at Kumargram, where Adivasis from violence hit Kokrajhar have sought shelter. The CM will stay in Alipurduar on Friday night and visit the camps on Saturday morning, Superintendent of Police Anup Jaiswal said.
Mamata reached Siliguri on Friday evening and was scheduled to visit the relief camps at Kumargram on Saturday.
“About 1,000 people have come from Assam. Whatever we can do with our limited means we will do for them. I feel that the carnage in Assam is no less than that the violence on schoolchildren in Peshawar. I condemn both the incidents. The people who have fled Assam and have taken shelter here are very poor. I have heard they have children with them. I appeal to people to come forward to provide baby food and dry food for those taking shelter in the camps… I am not looking at it through politics but as a humanitarian issue,” Mamata said, adding that she has no plans to visit Assam and wants normalcy to be restored there. She further pointed out that about 2,000 people had come to Bengal in 2012 when violence broke out between two groups of people there.
She was speaking to media persons outside the Bagdogra airport in Siliguri.
Meanwhile, Trinamool Congress workers claimed there weren’t enough warm clothes for people — many of them minors — staying at the relief camps. Kabita Das, the TMC-elected upa-pradhan (vice-chairperson) of the Changmari village panchayat, visited the Balapara and Changmari relief camps. Das said a total of 750 people were living in both camps and about 200 of them were children. “They have got a safe shelter but warm clothes are in demand. Many kids don’t have adequate protection,” said Das. “When Mamata didi comes tomorrow, we will tell her about these problems,” she added. In the Balapara camp, said Das, the inmates are mostly Bodos and a few Ravas. She said that in tribal-dominated areas, Bodo homes were targeted, forcing them to flee.
Meanwhile, Gunodhar Das, BJP district president of Alipurduar, and Monoranjan Pal, BJP block president in Kumargram, said that the party had arranged for rice, dal and vegetables for refugees. “We are also trying to ensure that there is no escalation in violence,” said Pal.
Jaiswal said four camps have been set up so far. “There was no fresh arrival of refugees today,” said Jaiswal. The district administration was making arrangements for food, shelter, drinking water, sanitation and health, he said.