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7 Aug 2017

Prohibitory orders to stop hill agitation spillover - First such curbs for Siliguri: Officials

First such curbs for Siliguri: Officials
TT, Siliguri, Aug. 6: The Bengal government today clamped prohibitory orders in different localities around Siliguri to prevent a spillover of the statehood agitation from the hills to the plains, the first such measure by the administration in recent memory.
Officials pointed out that during the earlier phases of the Gorkhaland movement that were launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha since the party's formation in 2007, the police and the administration maintained a stern vigil but never resorted to such measures.
"Vigilance and patrolling were heightened during those days in and around Siliguri. In fact, several rallies and protests were held on the Siliguri outskirts. But prohibitory orders, that too in different locations under four police stations, were never put into force. It seems that the police and the administration are apprehensive of more trouble this time," said a veteran police officer who retired recently.
Among the areas where the prohibitory orders have been enforced include all localities between the 8km stretch of Sukna and Darjeeling More, which come under Pradhannagar police station; some stretches in Salugara and its nearby areas, which are under Bhaktinagar police station. The order has also been clamped in places like Panighata More, under Bagdogra police station, and some localities of Matigara police station.
According to the police officer, the special measure is in response to developments in the past 10 days or so during which the Morcha has made it clear through rallies and protest marches that it wants to bring the agitation to the plains.
In Sukna and Jaigaon, Morcha supporters had clashed with the police after being stopped from holding rallies. Another attempt by the hill party to hold a rally in Naxalbari was foiled by locals who had resorted to protests.
"The Morcha leaders have realised that their decision to hold the strike and other activities in the hills have not worked, at least till now. On the other hand, some other parties in the hills have started lobbying in Delhi. In such a situation, the Morcha now wants to bring the agitation to the plains with the idea that creating unrest in places like Siliguri and Dooars will prompt the Centre and the state react to the movement," said a source in the district administration.
According to him, there are intelligence inputs that attempts would be made to spread the unrest in the plains, particularly in areas which surround the city and in some places where there is a concentration of Gorkhaland supporters, who have, during the agitation, tried to hold rallies and protests.
"Areas close to the entry points to the plains from the hills are also vulnerable... That is why, we have identified all such areas and the orders have been clamped to stop the assembling of people," a senior police officer said.
Another reason that has made the administration to sit up is the Morcha's announcement of "intensifying" the movement from August 9.
Central leaders of the party had asserted that they would wait till August 8 evening - till 6pm to be specific - and if there is no response from the Centre's side, they would intensify the movement.

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