Darjeeling (WB), Feb 6 (PTI) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee visited the Darjeeling hills today after a gap of seven months and assured the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) of all cooperation for the welfare of the people.Also Read - Poll Strategist Prashant Kishor Meets Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, Punjab Elections Likely on Agenda

Stating that she wanted to see “Darjeeling smiling”, Banerjee said, “I am happy to be back in the hills after seven months. Earlier, I used to visit the hills every two-three months. Darjeeling is a beautiful place. Also Read - International Travel Update: Germany, Norway And Iceland Reopens Visa Application Centres in India

“Peace is prevailing in the hills now. We have to work together, irrespective of ideological, political, religious or caste differences, for development.” Also Read - Black Fungus Declared Epidemic in Delhi - What Does This Mean?

The chief minister had last visited the hills in June, 2017 and held a cabinet meeting at the Raj Bhavan here on June 8.

Alleging that Bengali was being forced in the schools of the hills, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had indulged in large-scale violence and the army was called in. The GJM had then resurrected the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The party had also observed a 104-day bandh, the longest in the hills, in support of its statehood demand. The shutdown was withdrawn in September.

Several people, including a policeman, were killed during the bandh. In the face of a crackdown by the government, GJM chief Bimal Gurung and secretary Roshan Giri went into hiding.

Benoy Tamang later took over the reins of the party and GTA.

He also removed Gurung from the post of GJM chief.

Tamang led the GTA officials in felicitating the chief minister today.

Banerjee recounted that Gorkha National Liberation Front founder and former chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, late Subhash Ghisingh had played a major role in the construction of the Rohini Road which would now be known as the Subhash Ghisingh Marg.

Ghisingh had championed the cause of Gorkhaland in the 1980s. He had died in New Delhi on January 29, 2015.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.