Beginning her two-day visit to the troubled Darjeeling hills today, West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee came down on the sponsors of the indefinite shutdown stating that ordinary people were victimised.

Talking to reporters at Bagdogra airport in north Bengal on way to Kalimpong, she said politics should not be linked to development activity and observed that bandhs never do any good; it is only an impediment to development.

Taking exception to the GJM’s “Ghar Bhitra Janta” agitation coinciding with her visit to the region, she said, “Asking the people to remain indoors is nothing but a shutdown call. They are obstructing the development in the hills.”

She appealed to the hill party to withdraw its shutdowns and ensure that the GTA functioned properly.

“Whatever is happening in the hills, common people are becoming the victims. Politics should not be linked to development activity. Bandhs do not do any good. It is not fair. It is an impediment to Darjeeling’s development,” she said.

“We love all democratic movements. We respect all democratic set-ups. We respect the Constitution. We run the government as per the Constitution. Every six months if anybody wants to break to constitutional obligation (it cannot be supported),” Ms. Banerjee, who had declared the shutdowns as illegal and urged the GJM to accept the court verdict in this regard, said.

She expressed her shock particularly at the children not being able to attend schools because of the bandh and said, “Even the poor people are not getting their ration and food. People are not able to go to the hospital as the cars (carrying patients) are being burnt.”

Tea was not being allowed to be exported, she said pointing out it was the constitutional obligation to carry out the 100-day’s work programme.

She also urged the GJM leadership not to pay heed to any “outside forces” to create unrest in the hills, saying, “I will appeal so that by listening to anyone from outside they do not set their own houses on fire.”

The Chief Minister will be accorded a felicitation by the Lepcha community on Tuesday at Kalimpong.