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29 Jun 2017

As anger mounts, GJM seen losing control of Hills stir

Deep Gazmer | TNN | Jun 29, 2017,DARJEELING: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) refused to take any responsibility for the first targeted case of arson against a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) building in Darjeeling on Wednesday, even as the party fielded toddlers on the streets in support of Gorkhaland, signalling that the agitation had gone out of the hands of those who spawned it.
On Wednesday, Gorkhaland supporters vent their ire at the engineering division of the GTA building in Darjeeling, setting ablaze the first floor, which served as a repository of important tender documents. The teak-and-mortar structure is nestled in the Sailabas Complex, 500 metres from the prestigious St Paul's School en route to Jalapahar, 1.5km from the Army cantonment. A mob had targeted the building on Tuesday itself, within hours of an 18-member PWD audit team having reached Darjeeling, while agitators were burning copies of the GTA agreement. At 6.30pm on Tuesday, the mob was within striking distance, but had to beat a hasty retreat. They laid siege again at 1am on Wednesday and set the building on fire, the news reaching the fire brigade at the break of dawn. Down at Bijanbari and Rajbari, two panchayat offices were set on fire, a day ahead of Thursday's all-Hills-party meeting at Kalimpong.
Police had to make peace with the agitators by releasing two GJM organizers — Ram Bhujel and Samuel Gurung — hours after they had taken them to Darjeeling Sadar police station for interrogation.
Samuel Gurung is accused of masterminding the Singamari violence on June 17. Within minutes, Mahila Morcha supporters mobbed the police Station. "We were on our way to attend a party meeting in Singamari. Our vehicle was stopped by senior police officers, who then asked us to come to the police station. We were questioned and released after two hours. It seems the district administration wants to suppress our voice for the statehood demand," Gurung said.
The larger problem was that unlike the earlier acts, the GJM — at the forefront of the often-violent agitation — did not stand up to take responsibility for the arson. GJM spokesperson Binita Roka instead passed the blame on forces trying to "sabotage the Gorkhaland movement". 
The unprovoked violence is enough indication of the public anger building up in the Hills slowly slipping out of control of the Hills parties. The outpouring of rage among the protesters became all too apparent when some of them, on their way back home, said the anger was going escalate if they didn't get money to eke out a living. It prompted the GJM central committee to take stock of the situation hours after the scheduled meeting on Wednesday to fine-tune their proposals for the all-party meeting. They refused to divulge the venue of the all-party meeting at Kalimpong till late in the evening on Wednesday because GJM president Bimal Gurung is likely to attend.
With nerves on edge, GJM-controlled clubs at Batasia Loop rallied even children — some of them toddlers — on the streets, flaunting charkhas embossed on the tricolour. The semblance of non-violence displayed in the children's rally in Darjeeling was missing on the outskirts at Sonada and Lebong, where the kids were seen carrying khukris, a traditional Gorkha weapon. "We don't want to study Bangla. We want Gorkhaland," was the chant from the kids.
Violence spread where protesters damaged two vehicles and came in the way of employees trying to join duty at the Rammam Hydel Power Project. The Army had to do a route march to disperse the agitators. As a reaction to the development in the Hills, anti-Gorkhaland people stopped a vehicle with a Sikkim numberplate at Dhupguri in Jalpaiguri as part of a tit-for-tat tactic.
Sensing the mood, a host of Hills parties — including GNLF and Jan Andolan Party (JAP) — will make strong pitch for a non-violent, democratic course in the all-party meeting on Thursday. JAP leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri doesn't bank on the Narendra Modi government either to help them achieve a separate state. "The BJP has been using the GJM for narrow political gains. We have confidence in our people. We are demanding nothing unconstitutional. Let us build the movement on our own strength," Chhetri said. GNLF president Mann Ghising was concerned with the developments that are slowly taking a communal turn. (Source & Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/as-anger-mounts-gjm-seen-losing-control-of-hills-stir/articleshow/59360882.cms)

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