GJM’s Darjeeling bandh leaves region tense; Army, Didi stay put

Our Bureau Kolkata | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 09, 2017

CRPF troops patrol the streets, a day after supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) resorted to violence   -  PTI

Gorkha party is protesting alleged imposition of Bengali in schools

A 12-hour bandh call by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), protesting the West Bengal government’s alleged imposition of Bengali in schools, left Darjeeling tense and several thousand tourists stranded on Friday.

The Army staged flag marches in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong regions, even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed the situation was “under control”.

Banerjee, who termed the bandh “illegal”, went around Darjeeling, assuring tourists of their safety for most part of the day. The Chief Minister, who was in the hill town for a Cabinet meeting, has stayed back following the tensions.

In order to ensure safe passage for tourists, special buses are being arranged by the State government, which has put its might to restore normalcy in the hills. SpiceJet will also be operating a special flight daily, (along with its direct daily one) from Bagdogra (the nearest airport).

GJM challenge

Trouble had broken out in Darjeeling on Thursday when Banerjee was holding a meeting of her Cabinet there. Supporters of the GJM – the party in the hills best known for its strong-arm tactics and demand for a Gorkhaland State – clashed with the police, leading to a flare-up that show police vehicles being torched and personnel receive injuries.

The GJM supporters were protesting against the alleged forceful imposition of the Bengali language in the schools of the region.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung while declaring that the agitation would be taken forward in a “democratic way”, challenged Banerjee to stop it, asserting “his writ runs in the hills”.

He also proclaimed himself to be the “chief minister of the hills”.

Counter action

Meanwhile, four more Army columns (each having 80-odd personnel in it) were deployed in the hills, thereby taking their total number to six.

Charges under various non-bailable sections, have been slapped against Gurung and GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri, sources said. A three-member committee comprising senior IPS officers has been set up to look into the law and order situation there.

Sources added that the State Finance Department has been asked to submit a special audit report on the GJM-led Gorkhaland Territorial Administration’s (GTA) handling of finances in a fortnight’s time. The GTA is an autonomous administrative body for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills and its term is set to end in July.

Published on June 09, 2017
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