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26 May 2017

Darjeeling: Political parties asked to abstain from including students in rallies

Darjeeling: Political parties asked to abstain from including students in ralliesAmitava Banerjee | MP | 25 May 2017 | Darjeeling: The District Administration and Darjeeling Police in an all party meeting in Darjeeling have asked political parties to maintain peace. They have also asked them to abstain from making school students participate in political rallies. 
This comes on the heels of a near clash between the police and the Morcha supporters on May 23 when a Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha rally was stopped by the police as there were a large number of school students participating in it. The police asked the students to return following which there was a near scuffle between the police and the Morcha supporters. While the Morcha supporters had claimed that the police were quashing their fundamental rights, the former stated that it was a violation of a High Court order along with violation of directives of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR). 
The TMC, Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Jan Andolan Party were present in Thursday's meeting called by the district administration. The GJM was absent from the meeting. 
"We would appeal to all political parties to maintain peace. The civic polls passed off peacefully. Now, it is time for the new board to take charge and also for the formation of ward committees. We would appeal to political parties to maintain peace," stated Avik Chatterjee, SDO, Darjeeling. 
Following the results, there were sporadic incidents of post poll violence. An FIR had also been lodged against Avinash Gurung, the son of Bimal Gurung for allegedly tearing GNLF flags along with manhandling and abusing GNLF supporters including ladies in Darjeeling town. The SDO also requested to abstain from involving school students in political rallies. 
"There is an order by the Calcutta High Court against this," stated the SDO. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Jaynarayan Patel and Justice Ashim Kumar Roy of the Calcutta high court in September 2011 had stated that students as well as children are being used as "captive audience" in political rallies. 
"So not only the students, all children should be protected under the legal provisions of Juvenile Justice Act... They should not be allowed to be roped in for any political rallies even during the holidays or Saturdays and Sundays" the Bench had stated. A similar directive has been given by the NCPCR too. The Darjeeling police have initiated cases against the organisers of Tuesday's rally for involving students. 
The SDO further appealed that owing to peak tourist season and the onrush, political parties should abstain from using the Sumeru Manch for meetings and instead use the GDNS ground for political rallies. The Sumeru Manch or the Gitangey Danra is located in the heart of busy Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling town. 
Political parties usually deliver public addresses from here with the supporters blocking the busy National Highway 55 which passes through the Chowk Bazar resulting in serpentine traffic jams. Things are worse during tourist season. "The GDNS ground, which is located at a stone's throw distance from Chowk Bazar, is a better option and will in no way obstruct traffic. We would request political parties to hold meetings there at least during the tourist season," said Chatterjee. 

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