GJM supporters go on rampage in Darjeeling

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

SILIGURI - Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists set ablaze several government bungalows and a checkpost and looted ammunition from a police outpost as violence rocked West Bengal’s Darjeeling hills Wednesday, the first day of GJM’s indefinite shutdown.

The GJM, which is spearheading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state in the hills, called the shutdown to protest the killing of two of its supporters, including a woman, in police firing Tuesday.

Shops remained closed and road traffic was seriously affected in the Darjeeling hills comprising the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, paralysing normal life. The GJM has also announced plans to block trains.

Darjeeling district’s Superintendent of Police D.P. Singh said GJM supporters torched several bungalows and looted a rifle and 30 rounds of live cartridges from Singla police outpost in Darjeeling sub-division.

“The protestors also torched the outpost,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government withdrew the security arrangements provided to GJM president Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri, he added.

“Five companies of CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) were already there in the hills and we have also sent additional two companies of CRPF to be deployed there,” Additional Director General (law and order) Surajit Kar Purakayastha said in Kolkata.

In the evening, candles were lit in a large number of Darjeeling homes as part of protests against the twin deaths.

The situation was normal in Dooars, foothills of the Himalayas in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district where the activists were killed, police claimed.

Inspector General of Police (north Bengal) R. Kumar said: “Dooars was not affected by the shutdown. Traffic was normal on the highway. GJM supporters put up a few party flags at some places on the railway tracks. So, there is some disruption in train services.”

Meanwhile, leader of opposition in the state assembly and Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee alleged the police firing in Dooars was a conspiracy of the Left Front government to delay the upcoming state polls.

“This is a conspiracy of the government to not hold the coming assembly elections in time. In the other districts also they are creating trouble to remain in the power,” Chatterjee said at a media meet in Kolkata.

All these killings will stop if there are early elections. Early date of elections will be the answer to the bloodbath,” he said.

“We are very worried and watching the situation very closely”, he said. The state government was carrying out the policy of dividing hills from the plains.

The police resorted to firing in Dooars Tuesday after clashing with GJM supporters who tried to violate prohibitory orders imposed there.

GJM publicity secretary Harka Bahadur Chettri Wednesday claimed that one more supporter injured in the firing succumbed to injuries in a hospital in Kalimpong.

“Bimola Roy and Vicky Lama were killed in the firing yesterday (Tuesday). Nita Khawas, who was seriously injured, has also died at the hospital in Kalimpong,” he said.

Police, however, did not confirm Khawas’s death.

“There is complete shutdown in the hills. We are going ahead with our plan to block trains,” Chettri said.

Darjeeling Superintendent of Police D.P. Singh said: “The situation is peaceful. No untoward incident has taken place.”

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