Deep-rooted conspiracy behind Darjeeling violence: Mamata

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung on Sunday termed a "white lie" West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's claim that the agitation in the Darjeeling hills was supported by insurgent groups.

As the GJM shutdown entered its sixth day, Banerjee strongly condemned the vandalism by the GJM and alleged a "deep-rooted conspiracy".

Activists of the GJM, spearheading the agitation demanding a separate state since June 8, took out a protest rally from the party headquarters in Singmari. Kiran Tamang, an Indian Reserve Battalion officer, was left seriously injured after he was stabbed in the back with a "khukhri" - a traditional Gorkha knife, Hindustan Times reported. GJM supporters are creating violence and attacking police. I am told there is a connection with underground insurgents from the northeast India.

Earlier today, the Union home ministry put on hold sending more troops to Darjeeling to help restore normalcy as the state government had not yet submitted its report on the situation. The police said they are keeping a close watch on all the activities of GJM and will do the needful. Security forces also picked up college teacher and GJM spokesperson Vikram Rai, son of Darjeeling MLA Asok Rai, but later released him.

One can add to this the fact that most of the policemen on duty in Darjeeling now arrived from the plains a few days ago and are yet to get used to operating at over 6,500 feet with all the gear that they are carrying.The police top brass, both in Darjeeling and Kolkata, admitted that they may have got the GJM strategy wrong.

Later in the day, the effects of the trouble were felt in Kalimpong's Gorubathan market where GJM supporters allegedly torched a vehicle of the power supply authority, while the Jaldhaka police station was vandalised.

Eyewitness said security personnel initially fired tear gas shells to disperse the GJM protestors pelting stones at them, and later resorted to firing after the protest turned violent. Police did not fire rubber bullets or water cannons. A large number of women GJM workers also came out on the streets to protest. "Each column has 43 men", said Army Eastern Command in a statement.

In other incidents of violence, GJM supporters allegedly pelted stones and lobbed petrol bombs at the residence of Trinamool activist Deoraj Gurung in Lebong Cart Road, attacked a local Trinamool activist's residence at Pankhabari, and reportedly set a PWD office at Bijonbari on fire. The party has called a 12-hour bandh against police atrocities and included Dooars to extend its outreach to the Terai and Dooars regions.

The state government will hold an all party meeting in Siliguri on June 22 for peace in the hills.

Gorkhas across the country began uploading blank black photos as their profile picture on Facebook as a mark of protest soon after.

According to sources, the West Bengal state government has blocked mobile internet in the hills in a bid to prevent people from mass gathering.

  • Leroy Wright