Gorkha leaders call 24-hour Darjeeling shutdown


Kolkata : The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is demanding a separate Gorkhaland state, has called for a 24-hour shutdown in West Bengal’s Darjeeling Hills Monday to protest alleged attacks on its supporters by the Communist-Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and other outfits.

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The GJM leaders alleged that their supporters suffered serious injuries when several CPI-M activists and the supporters of other local political organisations like Janajagaran Mancha and Amra Bengali, which are opposed to separate statehood status for Darjeeling, pelted stones at a peaceful rally near Naxalbari.

“The situation has been brought under control and police force and senior district administrative officials are at the spot. We are keeping a close watch on the situation now,” Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) R.J.S. Nawla told IANS.

The GJM, led by its president Bimal Gurung, has been spearheading a movement in the hills for a separate state and also opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling.

The central government in 2005 conferred the Sixth Schedule status to the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) that ensures greater autonomy to the governing body. But Gurung’s group, which is opposed to the GNLF, is demanding full statehood for the hill region.

“About 25 GJM supporters were injured when the CPI-M supporters pelted stones at them in a peaceful blockade programme. We have been holding Darjeeling strike at four different places in Siliguri since May 2, demanding permission to organise political rallies in the plains,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement among the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills witnessed violence for about two years.

Giri has said the ruling CPI-M supporters do not want the GJM to hold peaceful political programmes in Siliguri and were creating trouble.