Darjeeling: ‘Naari Morcha’ of GJM protests against the raid at residence of GJM Assistant Gen Secy Binay Tamang and on Gorkhaland issue. Police use tear gas during GJM’s protest against the raid at residence of Assistant Gen Secy of GJM & on Gorkhaland issue.
The demand for a separate Gorkhaland state exploded with violence on Saturday turning Darjeeling into a battle zone as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with the police at Singmari on the outskirts of the town that left several policemen and protesters injured.
Even as the clashes continued, tension was fast building up in Ghoom Bhanjyang, about 8.5 km from Darjeeling as GJM supporters broke through police barricades.
Police fired tear gas shells and caned GJM supporters who started throwing stones at them. GJM supporters threw both stones and bottles at the police. Policemen were seen picking up the stones thrown at them and hurl those back at the agitators.
A large number of women GJM workers also came out on the streets to agitate. The clashes broke out at 11 am. There were conflicting reports on what sparked off the clashes. While police claimed that GJM supporters started pelting stones forcing them to retaliate, protesters said that the police stopped their rally and started firing tear gas shells first.
GJM supporters brought out protest rallies that they called ‘Dandi March’ after Mahatma Gandhi’s famous 1930 agitation against the British. They were supposed to converge at Patlaybas where police raided the GJM office on Thursday.
The GJM supporters had the advantage of knowledge of the local terrain and lanes through which moved and caught the security forces by surprise.
“Morcha supporters are exploiting the locational advantage and attacking the police. It is unfortunate. We hope to resist the vandalism in the hills with the people,” Darjeeling district Trinamool president Goutam Deb, who is also the tourism minister of the state, told the media.
Meanwhile, Bikram Rai, the GTA media cell employee and son of Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai, who was arrested from his residence last night was released on Saturday.
In Kolkata, the state government has called all the heads of the 17 development boards for the different hill communities and Terai and Dooars for a meeting this afternoon. The development boards were set up by the Mamata Banerjee government created between 2013 and 2017.
GJM leaders have alleged that the prupose of setting up these boards was only to weaken the GJM in the hills and the Gorkhaland movement by dividing the hill communities.
After Thursday’s raid on GJM office, its president Bimal Gurung had urged all the development board functionaries to step down and join the movement for a separate state. GNLF, the other major political party in the hills has also made a similar appeal.