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Darjeeling burns: GJMM protests turn violent during Mamata visit. Army deployed

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 8 June 2017, 23:00 IST
(Diptendu Dutta/AFP photo)

Darjeeling is on the boil yet again as protests by the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha turned violent on Thursday. This came two days after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered an inquiry into the alleged financial irregularities in the GJMM-controlled Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. It began as a sit-in demonstration but within an hour, GJMM supporters began pelting stones at the police and also set fire to a police booth at Bhanu Bhawan in Darjeeling . The army has now been deployed.

Incidentally, CM Banerjee and her Cabinet ministers came to Darjeeling's Raj Bhavan and held a Cabinet meeting there. The clash broke out near the place where the CM and her ministers are staying.

As the clash between the police and GJMM supporters aggravated, CM Banerjee urged the Union government to deploy the army in the hills restore normalcy. Banerjee also convened a meeting with the police officials at Raj Bhavan and instructed them to find ways bring the situation under control.

Around 20 policemen including DIG Rakesh Yadav and three women police personnel were injured in a clash with GJMM supporters. The GJMM supporters turned violent and tried to break the police barricades by pelting stones. The police also lobbed tear gas shells at the mob. and some cops even pelted stones.

The GJMM chief Bimal Gurung announced a12 hour bandh in the hill districts, but threatened that it could be extended indefinitely. Daring Banerjee, Gurung said, “Mamata Banerjee is the CM in West Bengal but Bimal Gurung is the CM in the hills”.

It was after 45 years that the West Bengal government convened a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling. After the meeting, CM Banerjee announced various measures for the welfare of hill communities.

The measures for the hill communities includes setting up of an administrative headquarter named Tenzing Norgay Bhavan at Darjeeling, starting of new Volvo bus services in Darjeeling and also providing more options for campus placements for Darjeeling students.

Banerjee said that the GJMM has no issue to attack her government with politically, hence it is resorting to violence.

“GJMM believes in destruction of public property and they are trying to grab attention by resorting to violence. Law will take its own course,” Banerjee said.

As the situation in the hills became violent around 10,000 tourists who were supposed to come back to Siliguri on Thursday, remained stranded in the hills.

CPI(M) on Thursday lashed out at the Banerjee government and said that the situation in the hills is serious and the chief minister should take immediate action on this regard.

CPI(M) leader Surjya Kanta Mishra said “The Kashmir policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Darjeeling policy of the chief minister are quite similar . There should not be any provocation. There should be only discussions and talks to resolve the issue.”

West Bengal BJP Dilip Ghosh also attacked the CM for “mishandling” the crisis in the hills.

The CM chief has instructed the district administration to help the tourists stranded in Darjeeling so that they could avail the train facilities from Siliguri .

She urged the government offices to remain open on Friday, against the bandh.

In another development, the government appointed Barun Roy as the new chairman of the GTA.

First published: 8 June 2017, 22:56 IST