A GJM party office was set ablaze by unidentified masked men today in Chowkbazar area of the Darjeeling hills as the indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 57th day. No casualties were reported since the office was locked. This was the first time during the shutdown that a GJM party office has been attacked in the hills.
The GJM leadership accused the police and the district administration of attacking their party office. The police denied the allegation. The incident happened early morning when the unidentified men threw petrol bombs at the party office.The entire office was gutted.
“Police personnel in plain clothes wearing masks attacked our party office and set it on fire. We condemn such cowardly attack on our democratic movement,” GJM leader Binay Tamang alleged. However, the police dismissed the allegations as baseless.
“These are baseless allegations. This incident is a fallout of the inner party struggle that is going on in the GJM. We have reports that a section of GJM is not happy with the party’s decision to continue with the shutdown,” a senior police official said, when contacted.
The police and security personnel have made special security arrangements in the hills and are keeping a tight vigil to avoid any untoward incident. The GJM took out rallies in various parts of the hills demanding restoration of Internet services, which remained banned in the hills since June 18, and an immediate withdrawal of police from Darjeeling.
Besides the GJM, various other hill parties and others marched on the streets of Darjeeling with black flags and placards demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland. Some political party activists dressed in traditional Nepali attire also took out rallies and raised slogans in support of Gorkhaland this morning.
With the food supply severely hit due to the shutdown, GJM activists and NGOs were seen distributing food among local people. Barring medicine shops, all other shops, business establishments, schools and colleges remained closed.