GJM strike: Mamata, ministers, tourists stranded in Darjeeling

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 08, 2017

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Thousands of tourists along with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and 30-odd Cabinet ministers were stuck in Darjeeling as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called a sudden shutdown in the hills post clashes with the police.

On Thursday, Banerjee, along with majority of her Cabinet colleagues – including senior bureaucrats like Chief Secretary and Home Secretary, were carrying out a Cabinet meeting. This is the first time in 45 years, that a Cabinet meeting was taking place in Darjeeling.

A few minutes after the meeting got over the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with the police a few metres from the venue. Post the clash, GJM – the prime party in the hills mostly known for its strong-arm tactics and demand for a separate Statehood on the basis of Nepali ethnicity – called for a shutdown in the region. A 12-hour strike has been called in the Hills on Friday.

Banerjee and majority of her Cabinet colleagues, along with the State Chief Secretary and Home Secretary remain confined inside the Governor house at Darjeeling.

With June being the peak season, a few thousand tourists are also stuck.

Flare Up

The GJM had for quite some time been holding demonstrations protesting “imposition of Bengali language across schools in the hills”. With the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announcing her decision to hold a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling; and GJM trying to gain back lost ground; the situation was expected to be volatile.

According to police, the GJM supporters tried to break the barricades put up by the police and hurled brickbats. At least 12 police vehicles were vandalised and set on fire. Several security personnel received injuries.

With the call for strike, shop-keepers have downed their shutters and traffic movement to and from Darjeeling stopped.

State Counter Action

Sources say, the State government has called in the Army to ensure safe passage for ministers and the toursists.

Banerjee has decided to stay back to oversee arrangements for countering the strike-call by GJM. Cabinet ministers are expected to head to Siliguri in the evening after protests die out.

As protests died down in the later part of the day, police were deployed in large numbers in parts of Darjeeling.

Published on June 08, 2017
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