GJM, police clash as Didi meets Cabinet in Darjeeling

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 08, 2017

Mamata Banerjee West Bengal Chief Minister

Mamata, Ministers remain confined; Army called in; shutdown strands tourists

The Army was called in after violence broke out in Darjeeling following clashes between the police and supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

Later, a sudden shutdown call left thousands of tourists stranded.

According to an Army spokesperson, two columns – with approximately 80 men in each – are being deployed following a request from the West Bengal government.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a Cabinet meeting in Darjeeling – for the first time in 45 years – when GJM supporters clashed with the police a few metres from the venue.

‘Bengali imposition’

The GJM had, for some time now, been holding demonstrations protesting the “imposition of Bengali as a language across schools in the hills”. With Banerjee being there, the situation was expected to turn volatile.

After the clashes, the GJM – the prime party in the hills known mostly for its strong-arm tactics and demand for a separate, ethnic, Gorkhaland State – called for a shutdown in the region. A 12-hour strike has been called on Friday.

Banerjee and 30-odd Cabinet colleagues, along with the State Chief Secretary and Home Secretary remain confined inside the Governor’s house in Darjeeling for a major part of the day. GJM supporters tried to break through barricades during their protests at the venue. At least 12 police vehicles were vandalised, set on fire and several police personnel were injured. Police had to resort to lathi-charge.

CM stays put

While some of Banerjee’s Cabinet ministers are set to return to the plains (Siliguri) late in the evening, the Chief Minister has decided to stay back and oversee arrangements for countering the strike-call by GJM, sources said.

Meanwhile, with June being the peak season, a few thousand tourists are stranded.

Sources said police was deployed across Darjeeling after towards the evening when protests died out.

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Published on June 08, 2017
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