Darjeeling, June 18 (IANS) The picturesque hill town of Darjeeling in northern West Bengal will have another shutdown as the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leadership is set to observe a ‘black day’ on Sunday to protest the death of three of their activists in police firing.
After Saturday’s violent clash between the security forces and the agitators, GJM chief Bimal Gurung termed the three dead GJM activists as “the martyrs of Gorkhaland movement” in a video message from an undisclosed location, and urged the Gorkhas to give out a befitting reply.
The hill town might once again be on the boil as, according to GJM sources, thousands of Morcha activists would march with the three bodies from Darjeeling’s Chowk Bazar on Sunday afternoon while the police have denied permission to any such rallies in the hills.
On Sunday morning, the civilians of Darjeeling, including several members of the minority community, walked in a silent march for restoration of peace in the hills.
The participants in the rally were seen woe black badges and carried posters and placards with messages like “We want peace” and “No more dead bodies”.
The Gorkha activists on Sunday blocked roads and staged demonstrations at several places in the Dooars in support of the GJM’s call for 12-hour strike in the region as the agitation in the hills spilled onto the plains.
The GJM supporters blocked the road near Dalsingpara tea estate in Jaigaon, choking the only road connecting India and Bhutan.
The violence in Drajeeling’s took an ugly turn Singmari after a massive rally towards Darjeeling’s Patlebas was halted by the security forces on Saturday afternoon. The GJM’s supporters attacked security forces with bricks and bottles, in a worst violence since the flare-up on June 8.
Scenes across Darjeeling and nearby Ghoom resembled a battlefield with charred buses, police vehicles and bricks strewn on the road. At least four vehicles, including three of police, were torched while eight vehicles were vandalised.
The officials claimed that nearly 36 of the security personnel were injured while trying to contain the violence, and denied that they opened fire at the protesters.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also backed the police claims and accused the GJM of having links with terrorists and insurgent groups in the northeast.
She claimed that there is a “deep rooted conspiracy” behind the revival of the Gorkhaland movement.
The GJM announced an indefinite general strike from Monday in the hills encompassing Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and the Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas covering stretches of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar district) ro protest the government’s purported decision to make study of Bengali language compulsory in state-run schools and to press for a separate state of Gorkhaland.