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15 Jun 2017

Gurung speaks, cops keep watch

Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling on Wednesday.
Picture by 
Passang Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 14: A team led by the Darjeeling superintendent of police today stationed itself at Malidhura, the nerve centre of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, as party chief Bimal Gurung addressed supporters.
Residents of the area could not recollect the last time the police had resorted to such action since the Morcha's formation in 2007. As Gurung completed his speech after 30 minutes, the police team left.
Yesterday, too, the police had camped outside Singamari, which has one of the most prominent Morcha offices in Darjeeling, and moved away the supporters who had gathered there. Today, the force led by Darjeeling SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi reached Singamari, and then proceeded to Malidhura, 5km away.
Morcha leaders alleged that the police were trying to "scare" party cadres and warned of an "indefinite general strike" if the cops "disturbed" marches that the party's youth wing has planned for tomorrow.
The police have not given permission for the Yuva Morcha rallies.
At Singamari, the police team reached around 3pm as the Yuva Morcha leaders were preparing to address a news conference.
Chaturvedi and his team spent around 10 minutes at Singamari and then headed for Malidhura, where Gurung was addressing a workers' meeting at Kanchenjungha Public School.
While 30-odd security personnel were stationed right outside the gates of the school, Chaturvedi led another group of men and women in uniform around the village and the institution's hostel. Having spent around 30 minutes at Malidhura, the police left.
In the past decade or so, the police had gone to Malidhura but never camped there.
Although the Morcha's headquarters are at Singamari and Gurung has an office at Patlabas, the party's major political activities are organised at Malidhura. Gurung holds most of his meetings at Kanchenjungha Public School and announces major decisions from there.
The Yuva Morcha also held a meeting at Malidhura today.
"We are doing a peaceful and democratic movement by holding marches. The police are trying to appease Mamata Banerjee and scare us. If our marches are disturbed tomorrow, we will immediately go for an indefinite general strike," said Prakash Gurung, the president of the Yuva Morcha.
Earlier in the day, Morcha chief Gurung also threatened a prolonged agitation. "The police are working like Trinamul cadres. With this attitude, anything can happen in the coming days and there could be prolonged agitation in the hills," he said.
Today, most of the banks and ATMs were closed as part of the Morcha's call to down shutters.

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