Violence, weapons, and stones take over Darjeeling protest
Security forces take cover during clashes with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters yesterday. PIC/AFP
The Gorkha separatist campaign in the hills of Darjeeling spiralled deeper into violence yesterday as protesters and riot police hurled stones at each other, while a series of raids uncovered weapons from premises connected to the movement’s chief.
The demand by the GJM for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal state is fast turning into a major political crisis for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and is likely to cripple the critical tourist industry during the peak summer season.
"The present situation in the hills is created by the state government. They want to suppress us using huge police force", GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said. He said the Centre and the state government should solve the "political problem".
Cash, arrows, sharp weapons and explosives seized during the raids on the premises of GJMâÂÂchief Bimal Gurung. PIC/PTI
Clashes with police
GJM activists sparred with paramilitary personnel, hurling stones from a distance yesterday. The policemen responded by throwing stones back as a car burnt nearby.
Earlier yesterday, police recovered more than 300 weapons, including arrows and explosives in raids in premises connected with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, sparking a call by the separatist group for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling hills. Police said some party activists also were arrested in the raids in Singmari and Patlebas areas. The developments came a day after Gurung said his group’s campaign will not stop until a separate Gorkhaland state is created.
"The state government is indulging in politics of witch-hunting," Roshan Giri, the GJM general secretary, said.
"The police and the state government are provoking us to call an indefinite strike in the hills. We will inform the Centre about the atrocities of the state government. We have called an indefinite shutdown in hills from today," Giri said.
The Centre yesterday rushed 400 additional paramilitary personnel to Darjeeling, taking the total number to 1,400, to assist the local administration there to restore peace and normalcy.
1,400 No of paramilitary personnel sent to Darjeeling
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