Darjeeling unrest: House, vehicles torched, GJM denies hand

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Kalimpong, Aug 1 (IANS) Two days after the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha threatened to spread its agitation for Gorkhaland onto the plains of north Bengal, a house and four vehicles were torched, allegedly by GJM activists, in Kalimpong district’s Bagrakote village in the early hours of Tuesday.

Two trucks, a private car and a motorcycle of the house owner in the village in the Dooars region also were set ablaze by the goons, sources said.

“A group of Morcha activists attacked my residence last night and set fire to the house and the vehicles. They also beat up my family members who were in the house at that time,” house owner Rakesh Perial alleged.

Officers of Malbazar police station and the fire tenders rushed to the spot to control the situation. However, the four vehicles were completely gutted before the fire officials could douse flames, the police said.

The local GJM leadership denied the involvement of their activists in the arson attack and claimed that Perial fell prey to the rage of the locals after he decided to ply his trucks amid the ongoing shutdown in the hills.

“GJM has no involvement in it. We have heard that he had an altercation with the villagers for plying his vehicles,” local Morcha leader Ramesh Rai said.

“The villagers asked him to stop plying his vehicles due to the indefinite shutdown for Gorkhaland but he refused to listen. Also he, along with people, attacked the house of a local resident last night following an altercation. The villagers got enraged and torched his house and vehicles,” Rai claimed.

The police said 10 persons sustained injuries in the incident. However, no arrests have been made yet.

The arson attack took place three days after the ongoing tension in the north Bengal hills spilled onto the plains with the GJM activists clashing with the police in Sukna, 65 km from Darjeeling, on July 29. The Gorkhaland supporters also fought a pitched battle with the police in Alipurduar district’s Jaigaon, bordering Bhutan on the following day.

The GJM leadership has given the central government a 10-day deadline, starting from June 30, to intervene in the issue of Gorkhaland and threatened to spread the agitation to the plains if no steps are taken on its demands.

–IANS

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