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16 Jun 2017

Darjeeling unrest: GJM supporters set ablaze health centre, power utility office

Darjeeling Crisis
The health care centre that was set on fire by suspected GJM supporters in Lodhama on Thursday night.(HT Photo / Bikram Sashanker)
Pramod Giri, HT, 16 June 2017: The unrest that spread in Darjeeling continued throughout Thursday night with suspected Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters setting fire to government establishments such as hydel projects and health centres.
Well after midnight, miscreants set fire to a primary health centre run by the state government-owned Ramam hydel project at Lodhama, 70 km from Darjeeling.
An electricity supply office at the same spot was set ablaze. Both the establishments were completely gutted. The nearest police station is six km from Lodhama.
According to sources, the state government is dispatching five more IPS officers to the hills. On Thursday, the Centre rushed 400 additional paramilitary personnel to Darjeeling, taking the total number to 1,400, to assist the local administration to restore peace and normalcy.
The indefinite bandh called in the hills by the GJM continued with roads remaining empty and shops and business establishments closed. Around 9.15pm on Thursday, protesters set fire to the Ghayabari railway station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, a World Heritage item popularly known as the toy train, but people managed to douse the fire, officials said. The station is 31 km from Siliguri.
Throughout Thursday, agitators vandalised and set ablaze government buildings and vehicles as violence gripped one of India’s most beautiful hill stations.
The flare-up followed a police raid at a GJM office in Darjeeling as police said they seized arms, explosives and night-vision equipment.
The GJM that rules the hill districts under the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) immediately struck back with an indefinite shutdown.
They set fire to a police outpost and a sericulture department office in Kalimpong. An attempt to torch a government tourist lodge was foiled by police. In Darjeeling, protesters set a vehicle on fire.
Police caned protesters and fired tear gas shells in retaliation to the stone pelting by GJM supporters.

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