Kolkata, June 17, 2017: The Darjeeling hills in West Bengal remained tense as the indefinite strike called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha entered into the sixth day on Saturday.
Last night, Vikram Rai, son of Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai and media manager of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), was arrested. Police also raided and allegedly vandalised the residence of Assistant Gen Secretary of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Binay Tamang.
— ANI (@ANI_news) June 17, 2017
After Thursday’s massive clash between police and the GJM activists following a raid at the Party chief Bimal Gurung’s house, the Darjeeling hills continued to be tense with rallies and counter-rallies, both by the Morcha activists and state ruling party throughout Friday.
Early on Friday morning, the GJM supporters torched a panchayat office at Mirik, a hydro electric supply office at Lodhama in Darjeeling and a health centre in Rimbik-Lodhama.
Accusing police of high handedness and oppression, the women wing of GJM took out a rally in Darjeeling town in the afternoon.
The activists carrying Indian national flag were seen shouting slogans in demand of the separate state of Gorkhaland. However, they were stopped mid way by police and central forces.
Countering the GJM rally, the Trinamool Congress members took out a protest rally in Darjeeling district’s Mirik sub-division, a party stronghold after its victory in the recent municipal elections.
Blaming the GJM for continuous violence and arson in the hills, the participants in the rally demanded the removal of Gurung.
Slogans like “Bimal Gurung Dur Haato” (Bimal Gurung Go away) were shouted from the gathering.
Taking a swipe at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BJP’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused the state government of not keeping the promises made during the formation of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) in the hills.
Meanwhile, the activists of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, a Trinamool Congress ally in the last state assembly election, and Jana Andolan Party (JAP) hit the streets supporting the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown in the hills.
“The state government’s policy is alienating them more and more from the people in the hills. This is not a good sign,” JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chettri said, and urged the state government to start a discussion with the local parties in the hills.
“It seems that there is a clash of ego between the state government and GJM. there should be meetings and discussions in the hills to sort out the situation. No political solution can be achieved through police action,” he added.
In the hills, hotels mostly remained shut throughout the day.
A long queue could be seen at the bus station as tourists and hotel workers prepared to leave the hills. Local administration arranged bus services so that stranded tourists could get to Siliguri.