The ongoing unrest in West Bengal's northern hills continued on the second day of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's (GJM) indefinite shutdown as supporters pelted stones at the police in various parts of Darjeeling on Tuesday.
Security forces were attacked as they attempted to stop GJM supporters from enforcing their shutdown in many government offices.
Police pickets and barricades were put up in front of the government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices and various entry and exit points of the hills, while Rapid Action Force (RAF) and a sizeable number of women police personnel were also deployed.
"The GJM supporters pelted stones at police forces in various parts of Darjeeling as they were stopped by the forces from enforcing shutdown in government offices. After we chased them, they ran away," a senior police official said.
On Sunday, in an attempt to counter GJM's shutdown, West Bengal government had issued an order that all its offices will remain open in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, adding that it was mandatory for employees to attend work.
At around 10 am on Tuesday, a huge GJM procession – chanting slogans against the state government and demanding separate Gorkhaland – marched to various government offices in Chowkbazar area to stop people from reporting for work.
"When stopped by the police, the GJM supporters turned violent and pelted stones. The police chased and dispersed the crowd," the police officer said.
The shutdown call given by GJM was mainly targeted at the central and state government offices, and those of the hill development body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. Educational institutions and transport were kept outside its purview.
The shutdown has led to spurts of violence in the state with several state government offices torched, vandalised or forcibly shut. The Block Development Office (BDO) in Darjeeling's Bijanbari, was allegedly torched by a group of GJM activists on Monday. Three GJM workers were arrested after the incident, and several others were detained.
The PWD office in Darjeeling town was also allegedly set on fire, while another BDO in Darjeeling district's Pulbazar was vandalised by pro-Gorkhaland activists on day one of the shutdown. A hydro project in Sonada was ransacked by the shutdown supporters, who also forcibly shut a panchayat office at Sukna.
The GJM leadership, however, has accused the police of resorting to unprovoked lathi charge on the GJM procession.
"The police resorted to unprovoked lathi charge on a peaceful rally. The more they use force against us, the more intense will be the struggle for a separate Gorkhaland state," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
To avert any ugly turn of events, massive security arrangements have been put in place at all important roads and public offices. Six columns of army personnel have been deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong towns since Thursday.
The state police, along with the CRPF and combat force personnel, were seen manning the important and critical points in Darjeeling, wearing protective body armour and helmets.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Jun 13, 2017 02:06 pm | Updated Date: Jun 13, 2017 02:06 pm