Amid rising tensions in the hills of West Bengal, the Centre on Tuesday directed 600 paramilitary personnel to provide assistance to the state government in restoring normalcy back in the region, which witnessed incidents of stone pelting on the second day of the GJM-sponsored indefinite bandh. The Centre has also asked the state government for a detailed report on the existing situtation in the hills. Meanwhile, six parties including GJM and BJP adopted a resolution for a separate Gorkhaland state at a meeting which was not attended by the ruling TMC.
According to PTI, a Union home ministry spokesperson said that as many as 600 paramilitary personnel, including 200 women, have been asked to leave for the hills. Around 400 personnel, already stationed in West Bengal, have also been deployed in the hill areas along with additional forces. The home ministry has said that it has been closely observing the situation in Darjeeling and is ready to offer support to the state government in order to bring back peace in the hills.
However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the situation in Darjeeling district was ‘peaceful’ and denied reports of the Centre asking the state government to provide a detailed report about the situation in the hills.
As the indefinite bandh (shutdown) entered its second day on Tuesday, the GJM supporters hurled stones at the police in Chowkbazar area of the hill station after the police intervened them from enforcing shutdown in government offices. The senior police officials were seen leading large police contingents in various parts of the hills. The government offices and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices were secured by putting up police pickets and barricades. Rapid Action Force (RAF) and a sizable number of women police personnel were also deployed.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership, however, accused the police of resorting unprovoked lathi-charge on its procession. Commenting on the stern action taken by the police, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri was quoted by PTI as saying: “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.”
The GJM supporters had earlier vandalised government office on the first day of the indefinite shutdown. The party has called the shutdown of all state and GTA offices to press its demand for creation of a separate state. The GJM chief, Bimal Gurung has said that he is in touch with the Centre and is hopeful that the BJP would consider its demand for a separate state “compassionately”. Gurung, while speaking to media had said, “I am constantly in touch with the central government and various ministers. I am very hopeful that they will understand our pain and struggle and will consider our demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The government at the Centre is our ally and they will surely consider our demand compassionately.”
Rebuking Banerjee’s decision for calling out the Army to control the situation in the hills, Gurung said, “My advice to Mamata Banerjee is please stay away from the hills. We don’t need your charity. The people of the hills will not accept TMC’s hegemony.” Speaking further, Gurung said, “In December last year she had accused the Army of trying to attempt a military coup. She can do anything for the sake of cheap politics. We are not like her. We respect the Indian Army. Every year hundreds of youth from the hills join the Indian army.”
With PTI inputs