Darjeeling crisis: Protesters set fire to library, RPF office and police outpost as unrest reaches 30th day

Darjeeling/New Delhi: The pro-Gorkhaland agitators again went on rampage Friday on the 30th day of the indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills, setting afire an RPF office, a state-run library and a police outpost here amid unabated violence.

The agitators set aflame a Railway Protection Force (RPF) office in Kurseong and a police outpost in Sukhiapokhri in the wee hours Friday, the police said.

A damaged police vehicle in violence after the alleged death of a youth in police firing in Darjeeling. PTI

A damaged police vehicle in violence after the alleged death of a youth in police firing in Darjeeling. PTI

A state-run library in Mirik sub-division too was set ablaze last night by Gorkhaland supporters. The library was reduced to ashes, they said.

The hills witnessed violence despite continued deployment of three columns of the army in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada.

The security forces maintained a close vigil at all police stations, camps and outposts besides the entry and exit routes to prevent attacks by pro-Gorkhaland agitators, the official sources said.

With food supply severely hit due to the indefinite strike, which entered the 30th day on Friday, the GJM and various NGOs of the hills distributed food items among people.

"Until we get Gorkhaland, the shutdown in the hills will continue," a senior GJM leader said.

Barring medicine outlets, all shops, schools, colleges have remained closed with internet services too straying suspended for the 27th day on Friday.

The picturesque hill station had earlier witnessed a 40-day bandh in 1988 and a 44-day shutdown in 2013.

Meanwhile, the Centre Friday told the Supreme Court that it was deploying four additional companies of CRPF to maintain law and order in Darjeeling and Kalimpong, which have been hit by the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.

The government told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra that 11 CRPF companies are already deployed in Darjeeling and Kalimpong and they have decided to send four more companies to ensure the safety of citizens and to maintain law and order there.

Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench, which also had AM Khanwilkar and MM Shantanagoudar on it, that the Calcutta High Court Friday asked the government to deploy four additional companies of CRPF there and they are rushing additional paramilitary forces there.

A Calcutta High Court bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty directed the Centre to provide CRPF battalions in addition to 11 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) already deployed there. The court also asked the state government to provide additional forces from its own resources to bring back normalcy in the hills.

The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) has decided to postpone its fast-unto-death programme from 15 July due to upcoming presidential elections. "We have decided to postpone the programme of fast-unto-death as presidential elections are nearby. We will take a call on it at our next all-party meeting on July 18," a member of GMCC told PTI.

Updated Date: Jul 14, 2017 20:24 PM

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