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12 Jun 2017

Uncertainty looms large as Darjeeling braces for bandh

Uncertainty looms large as Darjeeling braces for bandhAmitava Banerjee | MP | 11 Jun 2017 | Darjeeling: It was a day of preparation for both sides as Darjeeling braced for an indefinite office bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha from Monday. While the administration and the police will go all out to ensure that all offices remain open, the GJM has decided to send in picketers to enforce the bandh. Around five GJM supporters had been arrested in the wee hours on Sunday in connection with Thursday's clashes, arson and damage of public property.
Incidentally on Thursday, GJM supporters had clashed with the security forces in Darjeeling. More than 12 police vehicles along with a state bus were torched; a police booth set on fire and many security personnel were injured in the incident. The office of the ITI, Mongpu was also torched the next day. 
The arrested include Saniv Tamang (31 years,) Santosh Thapa (37 years) both from Mongpu along with Bhuwan Giri (63 years,) Rabindra Pradhan (51 years) and Dhan Maya Tamang (64 years) from Darjeeling. They have been charged under Sections 143, 505 (a,) 505(b,) 186 of IPC along with Sections 3 and 4 of Prevention of Destruction of Public Property Act.
While Dhan Maya was remanded to judicial custody, the remaining four were remanded to police custody for two days. "All government offices will remain open. We have asked all to attend office. All leaves have been cancelled. If the picketers try to stop the employees, action will be taken as per the law. Adequate police arrangements have also been made," stated Joyoshi Das Gupta, District Magistrate, Darjeeling.
Additional forces are being brought in along with the already deployed police, RAF, IRB, Central Police Forces and the Army. Sources state that additional Central Forces can also be moved in shortly.
Meanwhile, Gurung on Monday stated that they will clamp the bandh. "It is an agitation for Gorkhaland. In an agitation there are arrests, lathi-charge. Police can fire and people can die. It is all part of an agitation. The situation is going bad, it is advisable that the tourists leave," stated Bimal Gurung, GJM president.
Chances of a clash hang heavy in the air with the situation turning fluid. Though the police had showed great restraint on Thursday despite the stone pelting and arson, observers feel that they will foil this bandh with an iron hand. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has declared that there will be no more compromises and law will take its own course. "Bandhs are illegal and no one is above the law," she stated.
The TMC is also countering the bandh politically. A TMC meeting in Kurseong on Sunday resolved to launch a door-to-door campaign. "We will explain to the people that the GJM is misinforming them about Bengali being imposed in schools in the Hills as a compulsory subject. All this agitation is to foil the special audit in the GTA," alleged Rajen Mukhia, TMC Hill president.
A new political party "Gorkha Ekta Morcha" was floated on Sunday in Darjeeling with the demand of Gorkhakhand.

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