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10 Jun 2017

Hill strike: CM changes strategy

EOI, DARJEELING, 9 Jun 2017: As the hills came to a standstill following the 12 hour bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha condemning the clash yesterday between Morcha supporters and the police the Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee seems to have changed her strategy by trying to corner the Morcha from every side with her even maintaining that the situation would be dealt in a tough manner while the Morcha chief Bimal Gurung was seen taken a softer stand maintaining that he did not want a strike to take place tomorrow as it would inconvenience tourists.
The Bengal chief minister was not taking any stern action against the Morcha protests even though she has been in the hills since June 5th when the protest programs were going on in the hills in a full-fledged manner.
To keep the pressure on the Morcha continuously from all sides the state government were seen bringing in a new Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Principle secretary replacing the old one while on the other hand bringing an audit team here to Darjeeling who is expected to arrive by today. The security of Bimal Gurung has also been removed yesterday evening itself with army that has been called in seen patrolling in vehicles from last night itself.
The Bengal chief minister has also called in three IPS officers especially to look into the law and order situation. The three IPS officers are Javed Samim, Siddhinath Gupta and Ajay Anand.
Speaking to reporters Mamata said, “The hills are a glory for Bengal and law will takes its course in the present situation that is here. A lot of comprise was done with them but they are trying to break the peace here for their political benefits. No compromise will be done with them now and we will act tough with them. I have visited a lot of places and want peace in the hills.”
“This strike is unlawful and this is all being done as in the five years that they were here they could do nothing for the people here. In July the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration election could take place and it is for that they are causing problems for the people here. I do not know what movement they are doing but we are with the people and provide all help to them and request them not to support Bimal Gurung,” said Mamata.
The hills however remained peaceful the whole day except a stray incident at Mungpoo about 22 km from here where an ITI temporary office site torched allegedly by Morcha supporters around 10:00 in the morning.
Along with that the Gorkha Ranga Manch which is one of the GTA administrative buildings has also been cordoned off with police kept there and no one was allowed to enter.
A notice has been put there by the district magistrate stating that the building, which is a government building, was yesterday used for a political meeting and a base and launch pad for violent activities. The order states that there is apprehension that the leaders and members of the Morcha or any other entity could again use the property for unlawful and illegal activities along with specifying that it was necessary to preserve the evidence inside the building of the incident that occurred there due to which no person unless authorized by the Darjeeling SP will enter the premises. The notice states that it will remain in force for a period of two months unless withdrawn earlier.
The person that disobeys the order may be sentenced to six months imprisonment and a fine up to Rs one thousand.
On the other hand Gurung who was in his party office at Singamari said, “The strike called got full support of the people all over the hills. This strike did cause problems for tourists and we did try to provide vehicles for them along with food which was given by our Municipality. We do not want a strike to take place tomorrow as there are more tourists here and we do not want to cause problem for them.”
“The situation here took place only after Mamata came here as she only wants to divide people here and cause tension. She should come here as a chief minister and not do atrocities on us and this type of politics,” Gurung said.
When asked about the army deployment here and his security being withdrawn Gurung said, ¨Why not deploy army all over Bengal and issue the President's rule all over the State to stop the autocratic rule here and the tension she is creating. As for removing my security they can do that if they want but I am an elected person of cabinet ranking so there is a protocol involved there and the center should see into it.¨
Gurung also questioned how the police could stop people going in the Gorkha Ranga Manch as it had offices of the GTA.
When contacted the Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia criticized the army being deployed here and said, ¨In the year 1972 a cabinet meeting was held here to crush the Naxalite movement and now the cabinet meeting was held here to crush the Morcha. The administration should make a peace committee and have talks with the Morcha.¨
Shops, educational institutions all remained closed in the hills along with vehicles not plying except those ferrying tourists to the plains. However, offices did see a high number of attendance with an order being issued yesterday that action would be taken against those who would be absent today.
No untoward incident was reported from anywhere except stray ones like a temporary ITI site office torched at Mungpoo about 22 km from here.

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