GJM begins indefinite strike in Darjeeling, activists set 2 govt offices on fire
The office of the sub- assistant engineer of the state public works department (PWD) at Lebong Cart Road and panchayat officer’s chamber in Bijanbari village near Darjeeling were set on fire by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists on Monday during an indefinite strike called by the regional party for a separate Gorkhaland.
The Centre should now intervene and take some concrete steps in the direction of formation of separate state of Gorkhaland, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said on Monday.
Giri emphasised that if there was substantial attendance in the government offices in the hills, it was only because they issued only an appeal to the employees and did not want to flex muscle.
The GJM has called for an indefinite bandh in all the government offices and banks from Monday in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in addition to organising weekly meetings and torch light rallies to press for the creation of a
In late evening, the police arrested Satish Pokhrel, the elected GTA member of Relling-Kaijalay constituency. The arrest could be in connection to the torching of Bijanbari block office on Sunday night. The total number of arrests has now reached three. Massive raids are being conducted in the Hills.
GJM leaders claimed that the bandh was successful. However, Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling, said, “The attendance in government offices was more than 93%.”
Dr Vishwanath, the district magistrate of Kalimpong, said, “The attendance in the district was more than 90%.”
The day passed off peacefully on the whole despite tension prevailing throughout the day and barring two incidents of suspected GJM workers setting fire to a block development office in Bijanbari and a PWD office in Darjeeling. They also vandalised the office of a state-run power utility in Sonada near Darjeeling. There was no report of any untoward incident in Kalimpong district, said Dr Vishwanath.
In south Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee scoffed at GJM agitators. “I was threatened that I won’t be allowed to visit the hills. But I did not care. I went there, held meetings, restored peace and came back. Those who are trying to create problems in the hills might hurl a couple of bombs, and then flee,” she remarked in a public programme in Bhangar in south Bengal.
“If we wanted, we could have marshaled thousands of people and blocked the offices. But we only appealed to the employees,” said Giri in Darjeeling.
“Gorkhaland is a matter of aspiration of the locals and Trinamool will never find popular support,” said Giri