Gurung faction clashes with forces against lifting bandh
Darjeeling: The day after Bimal Gurung had threatened to impose the bandh stringently, clashes broke out between security forces and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters in Kalimpong and Mirik. Meanwhile, Darjeeling and Kurseong remained relatively peaceful.
Gurung in an audio clip from an undisclosed location on Thursday asked his supporters to come out on the streets and foil any attempt by the police and district administration to open up shops, schools and offices.
He had stated that till tripartite talks for Gorkhaland begin, people should observe the bandh. Gurung threatened that the youth were getting restless and were ready for a different agitation. "Let there not be a rerun of the bloody agitation of the 80's. Till now, I have been controlling the youth," retorted Gurung.
As teachers have started attending schools, specially in government and government-aided schools, Gurung's message was one year of loss in education in lieu of a better future is worth the sacrifice.
"Let us not have to force shut the schools and offices. The government of West Bengal will be to blame for any untoward incident." The day after Gurung's message, there were incidents of sporadic violence in the Hills. In Kalimpong, a vehicle carrying school students were attacked by picketers.
The students of a renowned school were being taken to the hospital for check up when the vehicle was stopped by picketers in Dambar Chowk. Stones were pelted on the vehicle smashing a window. Police arrived at the scene. The traumatised students were taken out of the vehicle. The picketers allegedly started pelting stones at the police.
Police resorted to baton charge and tear gas shells were burst. The protestors burnt tyres on the street. "Two policemen were injured in the incident," stated a police officer. As many as 15 protestors were arrested by the police. The arrested include Bimala Chettri, Municipal Councillor of Ward 7. She was allegedly leading the protests.
The crowd did not disperse and continued shouting slogans at Dambar Chowk. At around 4 pm, police chased away the protestors. Two state buses plied from Siliguri to Kalimpong and back with police escort. Picketers tried to stop the buses from plying but were not successful.
In Mirik, protestors blocked the main thoroughfare. When a vehicle carrying a patient tried to cross, it was allegedly stopped by the protestors. Police resorted to baton charge to clear the thoroughfare and 30 protestors were rounded up. Government and GTA offices saw employees attending. The Darjeeling and Kurseong Municipalities also opened up after 92 days of the indefinite bandh. Roadside vendors could be seen selling vegetables, meat and fish in Darjeeling and Kurseong.