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28 Jun 2017

Tubelight-and-blood protest in Darjeeling...Top Cop transfers

Morcha supporters burn copies of the GTA Act and the agreement in Darjeeling
on Tuesday. Picture by Passang Yolmo
Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 27: A group of bare-chested youths walking in a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha rally for statehood today asked the others to hit them with tubelights to prove they "can bleed for Gorkhaland".
During the rally in Darjeeling, the Morcha also burnt copies of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration agreement and the Act and "requested" other political parties not to contest polls to the administrative body if the state government decided to hold them.
More than 20,000 people took to the streets today, some of them carrying tubelights to hit the group of eight youths on their bare backs
As the tubelights broke and shards of glass pierced the backs of the youths, the processionists shouted slogans demanding a Gorkhaland state. The lashing continued through the 1km march that ended with the burning of the GTA agreement and Act copies.
"We proved today that we can bleed for Gorkhaland. The movement will intensify in the coming days," said Tilak Chhetri, one of the eight youths.
They were later given first-aid by doctors and Morcha supporters.
Sources said the eight youths who asked the others to hit them with the tubelights were members of the Yuva Morcha, the youth wing of the hill party. During the 2013 leg of the statehood agitation, the same youths had whipped themselves and rolled on the streets.
After burning the copies, Morcha assistant general secretary Binay Tamang declared "this is the funeral of the GTA".
"We will no longer talk about any interim arrangement now. We request other political parties not to contest if Mamata Banerjee decides to conduct the GTA polls. Those who contest the elections will have to do so at their own risk," he added.
With the Morcha dumping the GTA, which came into existence in August 2012, the Bengal government now has two options.
According to the Act, the government can either call for immediate elections or appoint an administrator to the hill body for six months. The administrator can be given an extension of another six months but by the end of one year, the elections have to be held.
Political observers said Tamang's "request" hinted at an apprehension among Morcha leaders that despite all hill-based parties coming together for a joint Gorkhaland movement, they could respond to the government's attempts to hold polls to the GTA once things settle down.
Tourism minister Gautam Deb today said the Morcha's exit from the GTA and the burning of the copies of the agreement and the Act on the hill body was a "drama" to divert people's attention from "financial anomalies" in the administrative set-up.
Cop transfers
The state government today filled the post of the deputy inspector-general of Darjeeling range that had been lying vacant for the past several months and changed the police commissioner of Siliguri commissionerate.
An order issued by the state home department today instructed Humayun Kobir, who was the joint commissioner (administration) in Calcutta police, to take charge as deputy inspector-general (Darjeeling range). He will supervise both Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts.
Niraj Kumar Singh, who was the inspector-general, IB (border), was made the commissioner of Siliguri commissionerate, replacing Chelling Simick Lepcha. Tripurari Atharv, who was earlier posted in the armed police, will be the new IG IB (border).

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