For the past half an hour, a pitched battle has raged between protestors of the GJM’s Nari Morcha and the West Bengal police on the streets of Singmari. Singmari is one of the GJM’s headquarters and close to GJM chief Bimal Gurung’s home in Patleybas. Media teams covering the event were caught between the two groups, many took shelter in nearby homes.
Violence broke out in Singmari as women of GJM’s Nari morcha took out an agitation in Singmari. The protest was a peaceful march with the women raised slogans for Gorkhaland. As the procession started towards Darjeeling, police forces deployed in the area started lathi-charging the women. They then tear gassed the procession.
Several women protesters were injured. Many tear gas shells fell on nearby houses. Angry protestors and residents then retaliated and started pelting the police with stones and glass bottles. From the streets, the protesters then started attacking the police from windows and rooftops of homes and nearby buildings. The police had to retreat back half a kilometre but continued tear gassing.
Meanwhile unconfirmed reports filtered in of several police vehicles being burnt by the protestors.
Earlier this morning, the West Bengal police cracked down on Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders. The move came after raids on GJM chief Bimal Gurungs house in Patlaybas on Thursday and adjacent party office. This had led to clashes in the area.
GJM leadership claimed that police arrested Vikram Rai, son of MLA GJM Amar Rai. He was picked up from his home in Darjeeling at around midnight. According to police sources, he was picked up in connection to clashes which broke out in Darjeeling on June 8, while chief minister Mamata Banerjee was holding her cabinet meeting. Vikram, a former journalist, works with various media houses.
Meanwhile, GJM leadership claimed that police raided the house of Binay Tamang assistant general secretary of GJM and it’s spokesperson and allegedly ransacked it.
“At around 3 am, my house was vandalized by police. In the same manner, they ransacked the house of our party chief Bimal Gurung. There is a virtual emergency in the Hills,” said Binay Tamang.
The situation in hills remained tense for the third consecutive day of the GJM sponsored indefinite shutdown in the hills, as GJM supporters tried to set fire at a PWD office with police retaliating by conducting a raid at the house of GJM leader Binay Tamang and “picking up” another GJM leader last night.
The police which is on high alert after Friday’s violence and arson and conducted marches in various parts of the hills.
Heavy police and central forces deployment were seen in front of the government and GTA offices and various entry-exit points of the hills. Except for medicine shops, all others shops, hotels were closed in Darjeeling.
The Centre has despatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist the West Bengal government in restoring normalcy in violence-hit Darjeeling hills which witnessed incidents of stone pelting during GJM-sponsored indefinite bandh.
The Centre has also sought a detailed report on the prevailing situation in the hill district from the state government.