GJM supporters set ablaze an office of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) prompting the police to briefly detain two central committee members of the party and held a demonstration today demanding a separate state. The two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Samuel Gurung and R B Bhujal were released after two hours of the torching of the GTA’s engineering division office last night, the police said.
A day after setting ablaze the house of the chairman of a development board in Kalimpong district and burning copies of the GTA accord, GJM activists ransacked a panchayat office in Bijanbari area, 25 km from here, they said. Meanwhile, the Army has been withdrawn from the restive hills after the state government sought a pull-out of the contingents, a defence spokesman said in Kolkata. “Six columns of the Army (around 300 personnel) were deployed in the hills on June 8 on requisition from the state government. The Army was withdrawn on June 24,” he said.
The GJM held a demonstration at Chowkbazar here demanding a separate Gorkhaland carved out of West Bengal. Children in traditional dress were also seen in the demonstration carrying placards which read “We Want Gorkhaland”. With violence returning to the hills, the security forces kept a strict vigil on Darjeeling and adjoining areas which remained tense on the 14th day of the indefinite shutdown. Internet services, which were shut on June 18, remained suspended.
Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Gautam Deb slammed the GJM for using the children to serve their interests. “Do the children understand anything about Gorkhaland? It is a violation of human rights. We condemn it,” Deb, who is also the state tourism minister, said.
An all-party meeting has been called by the GJM tomorrow in Kalimpong to discuss the next course of action.
“We have demanded withdrawal of the security forces from the hills and restoration of Internet services, but nothing has been done. So we will discuss how the agitation can be intensified,” a top GJM leader said. The police and the security forces also maintained a close watch on all entry and exit routes. Barring pharmacies, all shops, schools, colleges were closed.
In a few areas of Darjeeling, GJM supporters burnt copies of the GTA accord for a second day. The GTA agreement was signed by the Centre, the state government and the GJM in 2011 following a prolonged unrest in the hills. The GJM has said that its 45 members resigned from the GTA last week and the administrative body had ceased to exist.