Darjeeling, June 15, 2017: The West Bengal hills saw widespread violence on Thursday as irate Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters torched a police outpost and stoned security forces in angry reaction to a police raid on party chief Bimal Gurung’s house in Darjeeling district.
The GJM activists, with their women’s wing Nari Morcha in the vanguard, virtually surrounded the police force as they were returning after the raid on Gurung’s house in Patlebas, and started stoning the police from elevated areas in the hills.
Several police personnel were injured in the stoning. In response, the security forces lobbed tear gas shells at the protesters after a baton charge failed to control the situation. Large police reinforcements arrived in the area.
Some vehicles, including one belonging to a media house, were set on fire.
In neighbouring Kalimpong district, alleged GJM supporters torched the Pedong police outpost.
Earlier today, West Bengal police raided Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung’s office in Patlebas in Darjeeling district on Thursday.
— We For News (@WeForNews) June 15, 2017
According to police sources, the GJM chief’s residence was raided by West Bengal Police and the CRPF in a joint operation during which a large chache of weapons were also recovered.
The officials broke locks and barged into the GJM chief’s residence to carry out a massive search.
A huge cache of arms and ammunitions including bow and arrows, knives, axes and cartridges were seized from the house.
Soon after the raids, GJM calls for indefinite shutdown in protest against the police raid. “The decision to impose an indefinite bandh in the hills has been taken by the party’s central committee,” Tamang told media.
On Wednesday, The Bimal Gurang-led GJM had announced its decision to intensify the ongoing stir if the police continue to hound Morcha supporters like they did in the last two days.
Responding to the sudden raid, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rahul Sinha claimed such drastic steps may worsen the situation in the hills and urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to call an all-party meeting in the Bengal hills to solve the situation.
“Mamata Banerjee provoked the unrest in the hills and now she is making the situation even worse with these steps. She should immediately call an all-party meeting in Darjeeling to listen to their demands and sort out the situation,” Sinha claimed.
The GJM stir started on June 7 as a protest against the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to make Bengali a compulsory language in state-run schools, despite the chief minister’s assurance that the new rule would not be imposed in the hill districts. However, the movement soon turned into the revival of the demand for a separate state.