Darjeeling unrest intensifies: GJM burns copies of GTA, youth leaders threaten fasts-unto-death
Protesters wearing traditional Gorkha attire crisscrossed the streets of Darjeeling raising pro-Gorkha slogans.
After a week of relative calm, tension has once again steeped in the hills of West Bengal, on the 13th day of the indefinite bandh, as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists burned copies of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord on Tuesday.
Amid other spots, the key peace agreement signed between Gorkha parties and the Government of India was symbolically burnt at Pintail village near Siliguri, the place where it was signed six years ago.
The situation in the Hills has been bordering on precarious since 6 June, with a handful incidents of violence and constant bandhs, after a dispute broke out between the All India Trinamool Congres-led state government and Gorkha leaders over the alleged imposition of Bengali. However, Tuesday's burning of the GTA symbolises the dissolution of a peace treaty worked out after years of struggle and discontent.
Preempting that the situation could spiral out of control, the Indian Army deployed in the area moved in to secure a hydroelectricity plant, according to a report by The Times of India.
The Centre had sent paramilitary troopers and security forces to help the state government enforce law and order amid raging protests, but this was the first time the authorities felt the need to secure a vital installation in the state.
On the other hand, protesters wearing traditional Gorkha attire crisscrossed the streets of Darjeeling, raising pro-Gorkha slogans. GJM youth wing leaders inflicted blows on themselves with tubelights, marking their protest against the alleged police excesses in curtailing the protests, India Today TV reported.
The protesters hurt themselves, to attract the attention of the Central government on the issue. The outfit has also announced that they will carry out fasts-unto-death and self-immolation to bolt the Central government out of its slumber.
The violence, after a week of relative calm, rekindled on Monday night as the house of the chairperson of a local development authority was torched, allegedly by GJM supporters, according to The Times of India report.
Khas Development Board chairman Rajen Ghetwal had ticked off the Gorkhaland supporters by attending a meeting convened by the state government in Nabanna on Friday. The arsonists allegedly torched hid house while people were still occupying the bungalow. While Ghetwal managed to escape in time, four other members of his household had to be rescued by the police and the fire brigade.
"The Central government should immediately start a dialogue about the separate state of Gorkhaland," Prakash Gurung, president of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM) told reporters in Darjeeling.
"We will intensify our agitation for Gorkhaland by taking the path of self-sacrifice and fasting till death from now on," he said.
The demand for a separate Gorkhaland has been raised repeatedly since 1980s, urging the government to start a dialogue about a separate Gorkhaland state, to be carved out of northern West Bengal hills.
With inputs from agencies
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