As the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland entered its 19th day today, a vehicle was set on fire and two cars damaged, even as the Internet services remained suspended in Darjeeling hills. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists held a demonstration at Chowkbazar demanding Gorkhaland. Children in traditional dress were also seen carrying ‘We Want Gorkhaland’ placards. This was the second such rally in the last 10 days wherein children also participated in propagating for the cause of Gorkhaland. A vehicle was set ablaze in Six Mile village of Darjeeling and two cars were damaged in Kurseong by the protesters in the morning.
The police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept a tight vigil on all entry and exit routes. Barring pharmacies, all shops, markets, schools and colleges were closed. Hardening its stand, the Darjeeling district administration has extended the Internet ban in the hills for eight more days. “The Central government should look into this issue of gross human rights violation,” GJM leader Binay Tamang asserted. Meanwhile, the West Bengal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has issued a summon to GJM supremo Bimal Gurung for violation of child rights.
“We have issued a summon to Bimal Gurung for violation of child rights and asked him to appear before the commission on July 11. Despite our show cause notice last week, GJM again used children in their rally,” the panel’s chairman, Ananya Chakraborti, said. Renowned boarding schools in Darjeeling, scheduled to reopen tomorrow, have extended their vacation due to the indefinite shutdown in the hills.
“We have decided to extend the vacation as the shutdown is on. We have not given any time frame as to when the schools will reopen. As soon as normalcy returns in the hills, we will inform the parents and reopen the schools,” principal of St Joseph’s North Point School, Father Shanjumon told PTI.
Meanwhile, the GJM said the Centre should open a dialogue on Gorkhaland as it was the “aspiration of the hill people.” “Gorkhaland is the aspiration of the people in the hills. It should be respected. The Centre should open a dialogue and take concrete steps,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said here.
“The Mamata Banerjee government is dealing with it as a law and order problem. But it is not a law and order problem. It is a political problem and should be solved politically,” he added.