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10 things you need to know about the flare up in Darjeeling

The West Bengal government sought Army assistance in Darjeeling after police failed to prevent thousands of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters from throwing stones and setting fire to public property

india Updated: Jun 09, 2017 12:56 IST
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha,GJM,Mamata Banerjee

The Army was deployed in the Darjeeling town after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with police, damaging police vehicles and setting vehicles ablaze as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a cabinet meeting there. Things to know about the run-up to the Darjeeling clashes

1.Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)president Bimal Gurung called for agitation against chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to teach Bengali in school in the hills, terming it ‘an assault on the Nepali-speaking population’.

2.In a public meeting in Mirik on Tuesday, the chief minister stepped up the pressure on GJM by announcing a special audit of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the autonomous body controlled by the Morcha. The term of GTA is set to end in July and elections will be held ‘soon’.

3.Bimal Gurung began stepping up his opposition in a calibrated manner, starting out with a two-day shutdown of all educational institutions in the hills on June 1 and 2.

4.Gurung decided to exploit the presence of chief minister Mamata Banerjee and more than two dozen of her ministers in Darjeeling on Thursday to step up his agitation.

5.While GJM leaders insisted that the state cabinet must pass a resolution that Bengali should be optional in the hills, it was not discussed in the cabinet meeting.

6.Though the chief minister had said earlier that Bengali would not be compulsory, on Thursday she evaded the issue and told media that it was a minor matter and that one could learn any language one wanted.

7.The flare-up on Thursday afternoon took place after Banerjee chaired a meeting of the state cabinet, the first in 45 years, at the Raj Bhavan. Thousands of GJM supporters had gathered near the venue, shouting slogans. Even as the chief minister emerged from the meet to address mediapersons, the agitators tried to burn her effigy and began pelting stones at the police contingent posted outside.

8.The police resorted to a lathi-charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the mob. But that failed to quell the GJM agitators, who set fire to four police vehicles and a public transport bus. Banerjee was barely half-a-kilometre away from the scene of the clashes.

9.Bimal Gurung has blamed Trinamool Congress supporters for triggering the clash by resorting to violence. Trinamool leaders denied the allegation.

10.The GJM has called for a 12-hour strike in the region on Friday. Gurung is expected to announce further plans at a press conference this evening.

First Published: Jun 09, 2017 11:42 IST