Darjeeling crisis: Hill parties to push for separate state, Centre sends 600 personnel
The central government dispatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist West Bengal in restoring normalcy in violence-hit Darjeeling hills.india Updated: Jun 16, 2017 07:24 IST
The crisis in the Darjeeling hills deepened on Tuesday after several parties, including the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), decided to push for a separate state and unanimously adopted a resolution in favour of it.
The Centre dispatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist the West Bengal government in restoring normalcy in violence-hit Darjeeling hills, which witnessed incidents of stone pelting on the second day of GJM-sponsored indefinite bandh.
The Centre also sought a detailed report on the prevailing situation in the hill district from the state government.
A Union home ministry spokesperson said that as many as 600 paramilitary personnel, including 200 women, were sent to Darjeeling. Around 400 personnel, already stationed in West Bengal, have also been deployed in the hill areas along with additional forces.
The home ministry said it was closely monitoring the situation in Darjeeling and was ready to offer all assistance to the state government to restore normalcy there.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat in Kolkata that the situation in the hill district was ‘peaceful’.
She, however, said that the Centre did not seek any report on the Darjeeling situation from the state government.
As their indefinite shutdown entered its second day on Tuesday, protesters demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland hurled stones at the police at Chowkbazar area in Darjeeling after they were stopped from enforcing their shutdown in many government offices.
Police pickets and barricades were put up in front of the government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices and various entry and exit points of the hills, while Rapid Action Force (RAF) and a sizable number of women police personnel were also deployed.
Shops downed shutters as the violence broke out. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership, however, accused the police unprovoked lathi-charge on its procession.
“We have unanimously decided to fight for the separate state of Gorkhaland. We have also adopted a resolution in favour of it. Now our fight will not stop until and unless Gorkhaland is achieved,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
The GJM last week had called for a meeting of all hill parties. The meeting was attended by the GJM, the GNLF, the Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (apolitical) and the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists.
Two other parties from the hills, the All India Gorkha League (AIGL) and Jan Andolan Party (JAP) did not attend the meet, but their leaders expressed their support for a separate state.
The GNLF, an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the civic polls that took place last month, has emphasised the need for a separate state.
Giri claimed that the BJP district leadership too attended the meeting. But, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said: “We are not aware of any of our leaders attending any kind of all-party meet in Darjeeling.”
Stet Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the people in the hills and tourists were now caught between ‘Didigiri’ of CM and ‘Dadagiri’ of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
Chowdhury also blamed state and central BJP of speaking in different voices on the Darjeeling issue.
“The Centre complied with Banerjee’s request for Army deployment, while the state BJP was busy trading charges,” he said.