Kolkata, June 16 (IANS) Amid continuing unrest, sporadic violence and demonstrations in the north Bengal hills, a delegation of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha lawmakers on Friday met West Bengal Governor Keshri Nath Tripathi to inform him about the situation in the region.
Meanwhile, the Calcutta High Court, citing its 2013 judgement terming bandhs/shutdowns as illegal, ordered the state government to submit an interim report within two weeks on the damage of public property in the recent act of violence.
“Three of our MLAs – Amar Singh Rai, Sarita Rai and Rohit Sharma – went to meet the governor today (Friday) to inform him about the present situation in the hills and the demand of the local people,” GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told IANS.
“I am not completely aware of the conversation between them as I am in Delhi. The Governor should be made aware of people’s suffering in the hills and the state government’s extreme measures to curb any form of movement in the region,” he said.
After Thursday’s massive clash between police and the GJM activists following a raid at the Party chief Bimal Gurung’s house, the Darjeeling hills continued to be tense with rallies and counter rallies, both by the Morcha activists and state ruling party throughout Friday.
Early on Friday morning, the GJM supporters torched a panchayat office at Mirik, a hydro electric supply office at Lodhama in Darjeeling and a health centre in Rimbik-Lodhama.
Accusing police of high handedness and oppression, the women wing of GJM took out a rally in Darjeeling town in the afternoon.
The activists carrying Indian national flag were seen shouting slogans in demand of the separate state of Gorkhaland. However, they were stopped mid way by police and central forces.
Countering the GJM rally, the Trinamool Congress members took out a protest rally in Darjeeling district’s Mirik sub-division, a party stronghold after its victory in the recent municipal elections.
Blaming the GJM for continuous violence and arson in the hills, the participants in the rally demanded the removal of Gurung.
Slogans like “Bimal Gurung Dur Haato” (Bimal Gurung Go away) were shouted from the gathering.
Taking a swipe at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, BJP’s National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya accused the state government of not keeping the promises made during the formation of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) in the hills.
Meanwhile, the activists of the Gorkha National Liberation Front, a Trinamool Congress ally in the last state assembly election, and Jana Andolan Party (JAP) hit the streets supporting the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown in the hills.
“The state government’s policy is alienating them more and more from the people in the hills. This is not a good sign,” JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chettri said, and urged the state government to start a discussion with the local parties in the hills.
“It seems that there is a clash of ego between the state government and GJM. there should be meetings and discussions in the hills to sort out the situation. No political solution can be achieved through police action,” he added.
In the hills, hotels mostly remained shut throughout the day.
A long queue could be seen at the bus station as tourists and hotel workers prepared to leave the hills. Local administration arranged bus services so that stranded tourists could get to Siliguri.
Many tourists including those who came from abroad, complained about not getting proper food or transport to go to the plains.
“We have been waiting for a long time to come here in Darjeeling. We were very excited. But when we actually reached here, there is no trains, no tea, no rope way because of the shutdown,” said American tourist Adam.