Darjeeling unrest: Police raid GJM chief Bimal Gurung's office, recover weapons

Amid the ongoing protests in Darjeeling, West Bengal police raided Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung's office on Thursday morning. Reports said that the police recovered weapons, including a crossbow.

"A raid is going on in Bimal Gurung's office since morning. Several arms have been already recovered", Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, the Superintendent of Police of Darjeeling district told IANS. However, he refused to disclose any details about the types and quantity of arms seized by police.

According to police sources, huge cache of arms and ammunition including bow and arrows, knives, axes and cartridges were seized.

Responding to the sudden raid, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Rahul Sinha claimed that such drastic steps may worsen the situation in the hills and has urged Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to call an all-party meeting in the Bengal hills to solve the situation.

"Mamata Banerjee provoked the unrest in the hills and now she is making the situation even worse with these steps. She should immediately call an all-party meeting in Darjeeling to listen to their demands and sort out the situation", Sinha claimed.

However, he clarified that BJP is in no way supporting the GJM's demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland. "We have never supported the Gorkhaland demand, nor do we support it now," he added.

Raid at Gurung's office comes a day after the GJM leader threatened to intensify the movement for a separate Gorkhaland. The political crisis in the Darjeeling hills took a new turn after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) snapped its alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday after having joined hands with agitation spearhead GJM, saying the party has been fighting for Gorkhaland since its inception.

Emboldened by the GNLF aligning with his party, Gurung on Tuesday had threatened to intensify the movement for a separate Gorkhaland even as the indefinite shutdown in the government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices entered its third day.

The GNLF, formed by the late firebrand leader Subhash Ghisingh, had led a violent movement for Gorkhaland in the eighties, following which the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was formed.

Gurung broke away from the GNLF and formed the GJM in 2007 and subsequently emerged as the dominant force in the hills."The GNLF, since its inception in the eighties under the leadership Subhash Ghisingh, has been fighting for Gorkhaland. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a separate state of Gorkhaland," Neraaj Zimba, spokesperson of the GNLF, told PTI.

He said the alliance with the TMC was never a political or ideological one, but an electoral tie-up. The TMC is trying to deflect attention from the real demand of Gorkhaland through "doles and charity", Zimba said. Six columns of army personnel have been already been deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong towns with addition 600 troops being provided by Central Government on Tuesday.

Referring to the all-party meeting held on Tuesday, Gurung claimed that all political outfits in the hills had decided to work together. Accusing the Mamata government of running "political dictatorship" in the hills, Gurung appealed to the tourists and people working there to reconsider the situation and take a call on staying there.

"I would request the tourists and the people who have come to work here to change their mind about coming and staying here. The state government is doing dictatorship politics here. How can the tourists stay here in this situation," Gurung said.

"Incidents like baton charge are happening here everyday. In this situation, how can there be work or tourism in this situation," he wondered.

Gurung told PTI that he will shortly resign from the post of the GTA chief executive but the GJM MLAs and the municipal councillors will not step down.

The shutdown has led to spurts of violence in the state with several state government offices torched, vandalised or forcibly shut. On Monday, protesters tried to torch the PWD office in Darjeeling and the Block Development Office (BDO) in Bijanbari and Pulbazar. A hydro project in Sonada was also ransacked by the protesters.

As the movement gathered steam, GJM attempted to revive the decades-old Gorkhaland movement, a demand of separation of Nepalese-speaking districts of West Bengal into a separate state.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 15, 2017 12:46 PM

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