The situation in Darjeeling remained tense as the indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 81st day on Sunday. A massive search operation launched by the West Bengal police for the absconding Gorkha Janmukti chief Bimal Gurung continued. Since Friday, the police were combing Darjeeling hills and its adjoining areas for Gurung, against whom a lookout notice had been issued for his alleged involvement in various cases, including a bomb blast in Kalimpong police station in which a civic volunteer was killed.
There are also cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) against him. Protests by pro-Gorkhaland supporters demanding continuation of the shutdown and a separate state of Gorkhaland were organised in various parts of the hills. Rallies were taken out in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, Sonada and Kalimpong.
Picketing by GJM supporters has been strengthened in several parts of the hills and posters and leaflets were distributed in support of the shutdown. Barring medicine shops and hospitals, all the shops, business establishments, schools and colleges remained closed. The shutdown in the hills is on after Gurung revoked party convenor Binay Tamang’s decision of suspending it till September 12, when the next round of dialogue with the state government is scheduled.
The GJM chief had also expelled Tamang on Friday on the charge of “violating the party line and indulging in anti-party activities”. The police and security forces maintained a strict vigil in order to avoid any untoward incident.