Trucks torched, Gorkhaland demand intensifies in Darjeeling

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Siliguri (West Bengal)/KOLKATA/NEW DELHI - Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists burnt down two trucks in West Bengals Jalpaiguri district while normal life was paralysed in Darjeeling hills Thursday by an indefinite shutdown called by the pro-Gorkhaland outfit to protest against the death of two supporters in police firing two days ago.

We want Gorkhaland. We want to be free from West Bengal, shouted hundreds of GJM activists, as they participated in huge rallies which snaked through the winding roads in the hills of Darjeeling district and Dooars area of neighbouring Jalpaiguri with bodies of their two dead party workers.

The GJM organised a candlelight vigil and conducted all faith prayers for the two victims, one of them a woman, in the police firing.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said his party was no more interested in the constitution of an interim council for the region.

We want a new state of Gorkhaland out of Dareeling district and parts of Jalpaiguri district. Interim Council was never our demand. It was the central government which suggested it during recent tri-partite meetings. But now we want all talks to centre around Gorkhaland, said Giri.

Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) Randhir Kumar told IANS that GJM supporters set afire two trucks in Madarihat of Jalpaiguri district. But apart from this one incident, there is no news of any disturbance. The situation is tense but under control.

Asked if he was satisfied with the number of paramiliatary and state police personnel deployed to control the mob after the central government turned down the state governments request to deploy the army, he said: “Satisfaction has no limits. We have to manage with whatever resources we have.

Meanwhile, 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, 635 km by road from Kolkata.

Life was normal in the Dooars - at the Himalayan foothills in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district - where the two GJM supporters had been killed in the police firing Tuesday.

GJM president Bimal Gurung has announced Rs.300,000 compensation for the families of each of the 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.

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the firing and the violence.

My demand is to the home ministry in particular and the central government in general. I have no expectations from the West Bengal government. The CBI should find out why and how the disturbances happened, who were the perpetrators, Singh said while taking part in a demonstration at Jantar Mantar in the capital.

However, in Kolkata, state Home Secretary G.D. Gautama turned down the demand for a CBI probe. We are now waiting for the report of the executive inquiry that we have ordered regarding the firing.

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.

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