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31 Jul 2017

GJM gives Centre 10 days’ notice on Gorkhaland


Jayanta Gupta, Deep Gazmer & Pinak Priya Bhattacharya | TNN |  Jul 31, 2017, DARJEELING/JALPAIGURI: A frustrated Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Sunday gave the Centre a 10-day deadline to intervene in the Gorkhaland statehood stir on its behalf, failing which it threatened to intensify the agitation in the plains and the Hills.
Gorkhaland supporters acted on the threat immediately, choosing the sensitive India-Bhutan border town of Jaigaon to hit the streets. Protesters threw petrol bombs at cops, 200 metres from the picturesque Bhutan Gate, prompting retaliatory measures by police.
The incident caused Bhutan to close down the two gates at Phuentsholing, the entry-exit points with India.
GJM, sources said, was finally forced to issue an ultimatum to the Centre after being criticised over its soft attitude towards BJP, its ally. "We have decided to give the Centre a 10-day deadline to take some concrete steps. If they continue to be a silent spectator even after August 8, we will further intensify our agitation and spread it in the Terai and Dooars regions more rigorously," said GJM assistant general-secretary Binay Tamang.
"Our activists were stopped from rallying in Jaigaon on the day of 'Global rally for Gorkhaland'. We will not be oppressed by the administration any more. Gorkhas all over the world are with us," Tamang claimed. "Global rally for Gorkhaland is being observed throughout the day in solidarity with the Gorkhaland movement. Rallies were taken out in England, various parts of Europe, Australia, Thailand and in all major Indian cities," he added.
Sunday's clash comes a day after pro-Gorkhaland activists engaged with police at Sukna in the foothills of Darjeeling, which left six police personnel and several activists injured.
At 10.30am on Sunday, GJM supporters took out a rally as a part of their Global Unity March. The rally, in which more than 2,000 participated, was taken out from Monglabari and reached Gopi Mohon Chowpathi in Jaigaon town 800m away.
Since they had not taken prior permission, the rally was intercepted by police at Gopi Mohon Chowpathi at 11am. This led to a massive argument between protesters and cops. Soon, GJM supporters started pelting stones at police, which left some of them injured. Sub-inspector Anish Barman was seriously hurt. Police caned the group and fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the mob.
The Alipurduar police asked the GJM leadership at Jaigaon to control their supporters but it failed to act on the plea. The GJM men later assembled at Monglabari and pelted stones at police, leading to a fresh lathicharge and firing of tear gas shells and rubber bullets. After a while, protesters started burning tyres on the roads between Dalsinghpara tea estate and Jaigaon, which virtually blocked traffic. The roads were cleared around 4pm.
Rohit Thapa, GJM's Dooars committee organising secretary, said seven supporters were injured and one suffered a bullet injury in police firing. He, however, could not name any of the injured. On Saturday, too, GJM had claimed that one of their supporters, Ajay Chhetri, had suffered a bullet injury after police opened fire in Salbari. Later, it was found Chhetri was injured after a tear gas shell exploded near him.
Alipurduar SP Avaru Rabindranath claimed the situation was under control.

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