Darjeeling hills tense, lookout notice against three GJM leaders

The CID West Bengal on Friday issued look out notices against three Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders, including party chief Bimal Gurung, as tensions continued to mount in the northern West Bengal hills following a rift within the Morcha leadership.

Lookout circular was issued against Gurung, Party’s General Secretary Roshan Giri as well as party leader Prakash Gurung, sources said, for their alleged role in various incidents, including blasts in Darjeeling and Kalimpong.

Gurung’s supporters on Friday stepped up rallies and picketing, completely stalling flow of life in the region and effectively negating the suspension of the strike that was announced by GJM Joint Secretary Binay Tamang a day ago.

The GJM leadership which convened a central committee meeting in Sikkim on Friday expelled Tamang and senior party leader Anit Thapa, accusing them of conspiring to derail the Gorkhaland movement.

A GJM activist was allegedly killed in police firing while at least nine party leaders were arrested by the police during a raid in south Sikkim’s Namchi.

Thousands of pro-shutdown activists hit the streets at various places in the hills, including Kurseong, Sonada, Rangan and Darjeeling, in shrill condemnation against Tamang and Thapa, who had called off the shutdown for 12 days, starting from September 1.

Hailing Gurung as the undisputed leader of the Gorkhaland movement, the agitators pledged to continue the impasse till the statehood for the region is realised. Slogans like “Binay Tamang murdabad” and “We want Gorkhaland” were raised.

Streets in Darjeeling and other parts of the hills looked deserted. Shops, schools, colleges and offices remained closed since Friday morning.

Gurung, in a purported voice clip from an undisclosed location, has accused some of his party leaders of joining hands with the West Bengal government and of conspiring to foil their agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Terming the renewed agitation in the hills as people’s movement, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said people in the hills favoured continuing the shutdown till a separate state of Gorkhaland is created.

“This is a people’s movement. The poor people of the hills are ready to suffer even further for the cause of Gorkhaland. We won’t let their sacrifice go in vain,” Giri said.

Claiming that the situation was under control, police in Darjeeling said they would not intervene if the agitation is conducted in a democratic, peaceful manner.

“Some miscreants tried to create ruckus by pelting stones yesterday night. But we dispersed the crowd. Some activists are agitating again today. Police are keeping a close watch. We will not intervene if the agitation is done in a democratic way,” a senior police officer said in Darjeeling.

State Tourism Minister Goutam Deb said the state government is “keeping a close watch” on the situation.

“We hope for an amicable solution to the problem,” Deb said.

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