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2 Jul 2017

Police regain control of Darjeeling hot spot from GJM after 2 weeks

Tamaghna Banerjee| TNN | Jul 2, 2017, DARJEELING: Police on Saturday forayed into battle-scarred Singmari after nearly a fortnight and re-established their presence in an area that has been under GJM supporters' control since the pitched street battle on June 16-17.
Though a police outpost was set up in Singmari, forces had not been able to make inroads into the locality where the party office is situated.
It was stone-pelting by some youths that triggered the drive around 5pm on Saturday. The cops were conducting a march when the stone-pelting began. Some youths even tried to set aflame one of the vehicles that had already been torched a fortnight earlier. Dared by the trouble-makers, the strong force present, including CRPF personnel, gave chase. The youths, though, disappeared after slithering downhill from behind the party office.
The development came as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung took stock of the situation in the evening and told party leaders, especially the youth wing, to mobilize people in and around Darjeeling instead of resorting to impromptu strikes in remote areas.
With news of the incident reaching the top cops, IPS in-charge Shyam Singh and additional SP Amar Nath rushed to the spot. Having entered the locality where the party office is located, they set up a checkpost and began search operations. A checkpost was also set up on the road. Among the cars stopped was one in which Morcha leaders Jyoti Rai and Tilak Roka were travelling. They were questioned before being allowed to proceed.
To further bolster police presence in the Hills and quell attempts to rekindle violence, a fresh team of around 500 policemen, including Rapid Action Force personnel, have been requisitioned from Kolkata. The cops have been selected on the basis of prior experience of working in the Hills to combat the guerilla tactics of protesters. GJM supporters have been attacking police and government property after dusk.
"Since June 17, there has been no trouble in Darjeeling town but there have been several instances of attacks and attempted arson in the areas that are remotely located from the town or have very little police presence. We are trying to block those loopholes by calling more forces from the city and deploying them at some possible and past trouble zones," said a senior IPS officer, currently stationed in Darjeeling.
Kurseong, meanwhile, witnessed trouble around 7pm on Saturday when some fire brigade officers were locked in a room and three fire tenders were set ablaze by a group of miscreants. Police are yet to make arrests. In the morning, a fericulture office nursery was also ransacked.
At Dudhia near Mirik, a police team were attacked allegedly by GJM supporters while on an evening patrol.

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