Buddha makes offer of peace,Gorkha leader still seethes

Following incessant violence between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters and tribals in North Bengal districts over the past few days,Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday urged GJM leader Bimal Gurung for a fresh round of talks...

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published: January 20, 2009 2:27 am

Following incessant violence between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters and tribals in North Bengal districts over the past few days,Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Monday urged GJM leader Bimal Gurung for a fresh round of talks but the later spurned the gesture saying the tribal groups were backed by the CPM.

Describing clashes in the Dooars over the past one week as “ethnic clashes” state home secretary Ardhendu Sen said,“We have to sit down together to avoid such clashes in Dooars.”

Reacting to the CM’s offer Bimal Gurung said,“How can we sit for talks when our people are being threatened by CPM-backed tribal organization?” He added he is yet to receive any formal letter from the CM but would consider the offer only after his followers allow him to do so.

Meanwhile,despite state government’s claims of peace,fresh violence was reported on Monday from North Dinajpur district,where police fired in the air to disperse a violent mob.

Police also had to open fire in areas in the Dooars region,where fresh clashes were reported. IG (law and order) Raj Kanojia said one of his officers was severely beaten up by the agitators after which the police opened fire.

SP Shankha Singh said the protestors had blocked off a part of the NH-34 at Nagor in Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur since 6 am,leading to a massive traffic snarl. Around 10.30 am,SDO Animesh Bhattacharya and DSP James Kugor arrived at the scene and asked the agitators to remove the road blockade and gave them an hour to do so.

However,upon refusal,the police had to fire six rounds in the air and lathicharge the supporters,besides firing tear-gas shells.

The protestors too retaliated by pelting stones and 12 people,including a police officer,were injured. The injured officer has been admitted to a hospital in Raiganj. The police have arrested 30 agitators including Shibaji Sarkar,district secretary of Rajya Puranuddhar Committee.

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