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Darjeeling unrest: GJM supporters clash with police as administration try to lift bandh

The clashes on Friday followed GJM chief Bimal Gurung urging supporters of the bandh to resist the government’s efforts to end the shutdown.

kolkata Updated: Sep 15, 2017 13:13 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
File picture of Gorkhaland supporters throwing stones at policemen in Darjeeling.(HT Photo)

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with police on Friday in Darjeeling as GJM workers tried to enforce the ongoing bandh while the administration tried to lift it.

Bandh supporters rained stones on policemen who retaliated by firing tear gas shells and wielded sticks.

Read: Gorkhaland agitators meet Rajnath, request tripartite meeting

The indefinite shutdown in the north Bengal hills have broken all records and reached its 93rd day on Friday.

File picture of GJM chief Bimal Gurung addressing a rally. With the police slapping UA(P)A sections against him, Gurung and a few senior Morcha leaders are believed to be hiding in Sikkim. (HT Photo)

Over the past three days, the administration was encouraging the people to resume normal life in the hills. In a few places such as Kurseong, shops and some business establishments were open for the past two-three days. Alarmed that his grip on the hills may become loose, GJM chief Bimal Gurung urged the people to foil any attempt to lift the bandh, which, he said, will end only after a date for a tripartite meeting to discuss a new state of Gorkhaland is announced.

“Our primary concern is to open offices and educational institutes,” said Joyoshi Dasgupta, the district magistrate of Darjeeling.

On Friday morning supporters of Bimal Gurung hit the streets of Kalimpong town to enforce the bandh. In Darjeeling also all markets were closed. A school vehicle was damaged in Kalimpong.

Read: Miscreants vandalise room in Darjeeling where Sister Nivedita said her last prayers and passed away

After Gurung’s warning on Thursday evening, many of the shops that were open on Thursday under police protection in Kurseong, downed their shutters on Friday.

On Thursday a large contingent of police force marched Kurseong town asking people to open their shops.

Gurung, who controls the bigger section of Morcha supporters, have already expelled Anit Thapa and Binay Tamang, alleging they teamed up with the Mamata Banerjee administration to foil the bandh.

Both Thapa and Tamang requested businessmen in Kurseong to keep their shops open.

Read: Darjeeling unrest: Bengal govt to explore options for tripartite meeting

In Kalimpong and Darjeeling, however, where the administration has so far failed to provide a sense of security, the shutdown remained total.

Though some banks in the hills opened for the past couple of days, transactions could not be carried out in absence of Internet connection, said a senior SBI manager. “Banks operate through their dedicated lease lines and some of the lines damaged by landslides will be repaired soon,” said the district magistrate.

She also said that there has been regular attendance in her office for last three weeks. The district magistrate also informed that 30 teachers of Darjeeling Government who were staying in Kolkata came back to Darjeeling last Sunday after their salaries were withheld.

As many as 87 tea gardens employing more than 60,000 workers continued to remain closed. A tea planter requesting anonymity said, “We don’t want to become victims in the fight between Gurung and Tamang.”

Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Workers Union that is controlled by Bimal Gurung is the most influential and is in favour of continuing the shutdown.

Internet services were discontinued on June 19. The administration is in no mood to restore it now.

Though many vehicles plied between Kurseong and Siliguri, a few vehicles that ran between Siliguri and Kalimpong and Kurseong and Darjeeling on Thursday remained off the roads on Friday. Two state government buses reached Kalimpong from Siliguri safely even as bandh supporters tried to stop them on the way.

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 13:13 IST