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Fresh violence in Darjeeling on day two of shutdown

IANS  |  Darjeeling 

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) supporters clashed with police during a protest rally here on Tuesday -- day two of the indefinite shutdown called by the party in the northern hills pressing for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The GJM also convened an all-party meeting where six parties, including the (BJP), participated and lent unanimous support to the demand for Gorkhaland while condemning the "police action" on GJM activists on June 8.

The slogan-shouting protestors turned violent when they were stopped at Chowk Bazar, and pelted bricks at the security forces, prompting police to resort to baton charge to disperse the crowd.

Dividing themselves into small units, the Morcha activists used narrow lanes and bylanes of Darjeeling to take out the rally in order to bypass the tight security on main roads.

Senior police officers, including newly-appointed Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Chaturvedi, were seen patrolling the streets, alongside the army, counter-insurgency force and the (CRPF) personnel.

"The activists became violent and indulged in stone pelting our forces near Chowk Bazar. But the mob has been dispersed. We have to check if any of the officers got injured," Chaturvedi said.

A group of tourists from Mumbai faced the ire of the shutdown supporters, who stopped their vehicle and asked them to return.

Roads were deserted and schools and colleges -- despite being outside the purview of the shutdown -- remained shut. Private cars did not hit the roads, while a section of shops did not roll up their shutters.

Additional (North Bengal) N. Ramesh Babu said the situation was under control in Darjeeling and Kurseong districts.

Six more companies of central forces are being rushed to the hills to prevent any untoward incidents.

Meanwhile, police on Monday night arrested the GJM-run hill development body Gorkhaland Territorial Administration member Satish Pokhrial in connection with the violence in the area since last Thursday.

A massive force was posted outside the GJM party office in Darjeeling's Singmari.

The all-party meeting at Gymkhana Club was boycotted by major state parties, like the ruling Trinamool Congress, CPI-M and the Congress. Besides, hill-based outfits Jan Andolan and Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League also stayed away.

Apart from the GJM and the BJP, the Gorkha National Liberation Front, of Revolutionary Marxists, Gorkha Rashtriya Nirman Manch and the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh took part in the deliberations.

"All the parties are unanimous on creation of Gorkhaland state. The next meeting will be held on June 20 when there will be further discussions on the future course of action in a united way," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told the media here.

The parties also demanded written clarification from the state government on the language issue in Darjeeling hills, Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas) and Terai (the plains close to the hills).

The hills have been on the boil for nearly a week after the GJM launched an agitation against what it called the state government's "attempt" to impose Bengali on the Nepali-speaking people of the region, even though Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made it clear that there are no such plans for the hills.

As the movement gathered steam, the GJM revived the Gorkhaland demand.

A violent clash ensued between police and Morcha activists last Thursday during a protest rally, right after the state government's cabinet meeting in Darjeeling, in which several activists and at least 50 police personnel received injuries.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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