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Pro-bandh Gorkhaland supporter dies in police baton charge in Darjeeling

There may be confusion on the streets of Darjeeling on Friday as the hardliners of GJM are likely to oppose any attempt to resume normal life in the hills.

kolkata Updated: Sep 01, 2017 00:35 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
GJM,Darjeeling,Mamata Banerjee
GJM chief coordinator Binay Tamang landed at Bagdogra airport on Thursday afternoon. He proceeded to Kurseong and announced the suspension of the bandh in the evening.(Bikram Sashanker)

A 48-year-old woman died allegedly after she suffered head injuries when police lathi-charged pro-bandh faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling around 11:30pm on Thursday.

Romala Rai was the 10th GJM supporter to have lost her life in the ongoing agitation for a separate Gorkhaland in the West Bengal hill station that began on June 8.

The indefinite bandh in Darjeeling that started on June 15 was lifted for 12 days, a GJM faction led by chief coordinator Binay Tamang announced on Thursday in Kurseong. However, within minutes GJM president Bimal Gurung told the media that the bandh will continue and the section that announced the suspension of the bandh had no locus standi to do so.

Read: Darjeeling talks: Separate Gorkhaland beyond our jurisdiction, says Mamata

Rallies supporting the ongoing indefinite bandh were taken out in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong on Thursday evening.

The situation turned tense in Darjeeling and Kurseong after Gurung said he will hold a central committee meeting on Friday to expel Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa, who he claimed had betrayed the cause of Gorkhaland.

The GJM president also said he will send a team of his party soon to Delhi to discuss the hill situation with the central leaders.

Tamang had earlier said the bandh was being suspended to honour the state government’s response to having dialogues.

Bimala Gurung, the president of GJM, has vowed to oppose the suspension of the bandh. He is leading the hardliners in the Morcha. ( Samir Jana )

“The chief minister is scheduled to have another meeting with hills parties on September 12. Till then, the bandh will remained suspended,” Tamang said after presiding over the central committee meeting.

“They had no business to call a central committee meeting. The decision has no legitimacy. The bandh will continue,” Gurung told the media over phone from an undisclosed location.

“The bandh is not being withdrawn,” Roshan Giri told HT minutes after Tamang’s announcement.

Read: Indefinite Darjeeling bandh bleeds Siliguri’s business of Rs 2 crore every day

Tamang announced the decision of a central committee meeting of the Morcha that comprised about 30 members out of 93. The conflicting statements made it clear that there will be confusion on the streets of the north Bengal hills from Friday onwards.

The suspension of the bandh would be a big relief for the residents of the hills who have been struggling with a complete shutdown for the past 78 days, it is likely that the hardliners of GJM, led by president Bimal Gurung, will oppose any attempt to resume normal life.

Tamang’s announcement follows a meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerjee on August 29 at the state secretariat. Representatives of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Jan Andolan Party (JAP) were also present in the meeting in which Mamata Banerjee requested the hill parties to lift the bandh quickly and restore normalcy in the hills.

The prospect of a split in GJM sounded louder when Tamang targeted the GJM-backed BJP MP from Darjeeling, Surinder Singh Ahluwalia.

“What has Ahluwalia done? Why has he not done anything for Gorkhaland. And since you have not done anything yet, you don’t need to anymore. I’ll coordinate with New Delhi,” Tamang said.

The statement indicated he was accusing Gurung of sparing BJP, while targeting the Mamata Banerjee government.

“We want Gorkhaland but it will not come bypassing the state government,” Tamang said.

On Thursday, nearly 150 vehicles full of GJM supporters arrived at Bagdogra airport to receive Tamang, who soon after addressed a public gathering.

Earlier Gurung alleged that he felt betrayed by those who went to meet the chief minister and insisted that they should not discuss anything other than a separate state of Gorkhaland. He has been charged with UPAP(P)A sections and is in hiding to evade arrest.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 18:35 IST