A police vehicle was set on fire by unknown assailants during a GJM protest rally in Darjeeling on Wednesday, as per ANI reports. According to police reports, century-old community hall and a TMC party office in the Darjeeling hills were also set ablaze by pro-Gorkhaland supporters earlier in the day as the indefinite shutdown for a separate state entered its 35th day. While the Raj Rajeswari hall in Kurseong area was reduced to ashes after the blaze late last night, the Trinamool Congress party office in Darjeeling town was also gutted after it was set on fire today.
“No one was injured but both the hall and party office were reduced to ashes. We are trying to identify the culprits,” an official told PTI.
Meanwhile, political party activists, dressed in traditional Nepali attire, took out rallies in the morning. They were heard raising slogans in support of a separate Gorkhaland state. The GJM also has plans to conduct rallies in various parts of the hills.
This is a day after GJM supporters vandalised several government buildings in Mirik on Tuesday. The violence took place after the body of GJM worker Ashish Tamang, who was killed allegedly in police firing during Monday’s clash with security personnel, was brought to Mirik from Siliguri, where the autopsy was conducted. GJM supporters vandalised and torched the old municipal building in Mirik. Other buildings too were vandalised. In response, the police used teargas and fired in the air.
Earlier, at the fifth all-party meeting in Kalimpong on Tuesday, where Gorkha outfits and representatives of BJP and Congress were present, Gorkha leaders appealed for peace in Mirik. “Whether they are TMC members or GJM, they are all Gorkhas. We must not clash with each other,” said GNLF spokesperson and Gorkhaland movement coordination committee member Neeraj Zimba.
The parties decided that the strike in Darjeeling hills will continue till a “concrete result” is achieved. While the agitation continues in the region, at least 32 Gorkha leaders will move to New Delhi over the next few days. “We want to be in touch with the Union ministers and MPs, and apprise them of what is happening in West Bengal,” said Zimba.
Police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept a tight vigil on entry and exit routes. Internet services remained suspended in the hills. Except for pharmacies, all the other shops, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges were also closed.