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7 Aug 2017

Police teams back near Gurung office

A police vehicle moves along a road near Patlebas 
TT, Calcutta, Aug. 6: Security personnel patrolled the area near Bimal Gurung's office at Patlebas in Darjeeling for the first time today after a raid there on June 15 triggered violence and the call for the indefinite shutdown in the hills.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president was not in the office when the security personnel, led by the Darjeeling superintendent of police, inched closer to Patlebas.
Soon after the raid on the Patlebas office - from where Gurung calls the shots - on June 15, Morcha supporters had engaged in a pitched battle with the police in Darjeeling. Since then, the men in uniform had largely confined themselves up to Singamari, about 3km uphill from Patlebas.
Sources said the police would at the most go till Mount Hermon School, which is about 800m downhill from Singamari. The police's attempt to maintain a distance from Gurung's official residence was believed to be the state administration's strategy of avoiding another direct confrontation with the Morcha.
"So, when a police team visited the area close to Gurung's official address, we were a bit surprised," said a source.
A team led by the Darjeeling SP, Akhilesh Chaturvedi, went down to Mount Hermon School in cars and vans around 1pm and then walked 1km downhill before returning. The team comprised 40-odd security personnel.
The patrolling party's final point was around 1km away from Gurung's office.
The sources said the Morcha president was not in the office although he was present in the morning.
As the police patrolling around Patlebas comes two days after the arrest of Norbu G. Lama, a former GTA Sabha member from the Takdah-Teesta Valley constituency as well as the spokesperson for the Morcha, from Siliguri, insiders in hill politics said another round of violence couldn't be ruled out.
Lama is the second former GTA Sabha member to be arrested in the latest phase of the agitation.
Chaturvedi did not speak to the media but a retired police officer said: "The patrolling near Gurung's office could be a psychological battle to unnerve the Morcha leadership so that the party comes to the talks table."
Sources quoted Gurung as saying that the Centre was putting out feelers for talks. The state government has also proposed talks, but with the condition that the strike and the violence stop.

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