Four Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) workers were detained on Monday when they tried to block the entrance of the district magistrate's office in West Bengal's Darjeeling, on the third day of the indefinite bandh in the hills to demand a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Police intervened when a group of GJM workers tried to block the main gate of the district magistrate's office at about 9:30 am. Four of them were detained, police said.
Sixteen persons were arrested last night for setting afire the Takdah forest bunglow last week, police said. With this, the total number of those arrested has risen to 19 in connection with the incident.
The strike, which was called by the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha following the Centre's approval for the demand for Telangana state, took a violent turn on Sunday.
GJM men torch panchayat office, close hydel projects
The bandh continued to paralyse life in Darjeeling hill areas with shops, markets, offices, schools and colleges remaining closed.
Vehicles also did not ply, official sources said.
So far, more than 1,000 school students from foreign countries have become silent sufferers of the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling. These students are now stuck in the hills even as Darjeeling witnesses continuing violence.
Earlier, after three years of agitation for a state of Gorkhaland led by the GJM, it reached an agreement with the West Bengal state government to form a semi-autonomous body to administer the Darjeeling hills, known as the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. The GTA has administrative, executive and financial powers, though it lacks legislative power.
But the GJM was not satisfied with this step. Terming the agreement for formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration a 'small step', a top GJM leader on July 18 said that the ultimate aim is a separate state of Gorkhaland.
GTA treaty small step, ultimate aim Gorkhaland: Asha Gurung
However, some West Bengal groups even opposed the GTA and carried out protests.
Some organizations called for strikes.
For example, a 12 hour general strike was called by Rashtriya Shiv Sena activists in Siliguri on July 19, 2013, paralyzing commercial activity and civic life.
The West Bengal government is now considering applying 'power' pressure tactics on Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, taking a non-compromising stand on the Gorkhaland issue.
However, it remains to be seen whether the agitation for Gorkhaland is stifled by such pressure tactics. With the creation of Telangana now becoming far more certain than ever, the demand for Gorkhaland (as well as some other states) might be a hard one to ignore for the present and future governments.
(With inputs from PTI)
Photo credits: AFP