A GJM supporter tried to immolate himself at Dambarchowk in the heart of Kalimpong town demanding a separate Gorkhaland today on the second day of the 72-hour bandh in the Darjeeling hills by the party. Police said Mangal Singh Rajput(45),a resident of Kalimpong,poured petrol on himself and rushed to crowded Dambarchowk before setting himself on fire. The incident took the people by surprise,who rushed to his rescue and doused the fire.Rajput was taken to a hospital,where doctors said his condition was critical as he had received 90 per cent burns.
Following the immolation bid,IRB personnel were posted to control the situation. The bandh disrupted normal life in the Darjeeling hills with all shops,markets,school,colleges,government offices,banks and post offices closed as GJM supporters gathered at Chowkbazar in Darjeeling as also in the two other hill subdivisions of Kurseong and Kalimpong. Reports said among offices closed were the district magistrate’s,Prasar Bharati and Gorkha Territorial Administration,which runs the affairs of the hills. There was no work at the 16 tea gardens and at the cinchona factory in the hills,the reports said.
GJM supporters,including GJM Nari Morcha supporters,were seen controlling the traditional entrance to Darjeeling town near the railway station. There was no transport on the roads or on NH 31A,the lifeline of Sikkim which connects it to West Bengal. Official sources said two more platoons of security forces were en route to the hills,where seven companies of RAF,five companies of Riot Police and two companies of IRB were stationed.
Among the foreign tourists trapped in the hills,one was from Siberia and another from the UK. Domestic tourists have already left the hills. GJM chief Bimal Gurung had yesterday threatened that the three-day strike would be extended into an indefinite one to press for Gorkhaland in case statehood was conferred on Telangana. He had also announced that he would quit as GTA chief in a day or two.