Darjeeling peaceful, but shutdown disrupts lifeBy IANS
Thursday, February 10, 2011
SILIGURI - The Darjeeling hills in West Bengal were peaceful Thursday but normal life was paralysed by the indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to protest the death of two supporters in police firing two days ago.
“There are no reports of any untoward incident. The situation is peaceful and under control. The security forces are on high alert,” Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) Randhir Kumar told IANS over phone.
Vehicular movement was almost nil and offices, shops and commercial establishments remained closed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong - the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling district. Darjeeling is 635 km by road from Kolkata.
Life was normal in the Dooars - at the Himalayan foothills in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district - where police firing had taken place Tuesday leading to the death of two GJM supporters, including a woman.
GJM, which is spearheading the movement for a separate Gorkhaland state in the hills, claims the death toll is three. GJM president Bimal Gurung has announced Rs.300,000 payment for the families of each of the ‘three victims’.
The hills have seen a fresh bout of unrest since Tuesday after police resorted to firing in the Dooars Tuesday following a clash with GJM supporters who tried to violate prohibitory orders there.
Between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, GJM activists set ablaze several government bungalows and a checkpost and looted ammunition from a police outpost, police say.
GJM leader Harka Bahadur Chettri said his outfit’s central committee would meet in the evening to decide the course of the movement. “We will sit and discuss and decide the course of the movement. But I can assure you it will be democratic,” Chettri told IANS over phone.
Terming the police firing and the subsequent violence as a “conspiracy” of the West Bengal government, he said: “They want to create a volatile situation so that the movement can be curbed in the name of containing law and order”.
The Bimal Gurung-led GJM has been leading the renewed Gorkhaland agitation for over two years by sidelining the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which had been spearheading the movement since the 1980s.