GJM supporters torch, vandalise offices on Day 1 of shutdown

GJM supporters torch, vandalise offices on Day 1 of shutdown

Even as the Hills prepared for a long season of bandhs, GJM's second man in command Roshan Giri said, "We have no other way but to press for our final demand that is Gorkhaland because GTA seems to have failed in its goal".

Earlier on Monday, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) said that normalcy is returning in Darjeeling, as the strength of the force has been increased to tackle the indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for a separate Gorkhaland.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has branded the GJM protest as "abhorrent" and appealed to the people of the region to maintain peace. At present, many tea garden workers get only Rs 132.50 as a daily wage. "They will throw a few bombs and leave".

"We didn't enforce a shutdown".

GJM activists began the day by allegedly trying to set fire to a BDO office at Phulbazar in Bijanbari block. "We want Central intervention".

The city's eateries, hotels, shops and private offices were also non-operational, while the government offices have been kept open, except the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) offices. As retaliation Gurung who took out long rallies last week said all the public institutions in the GTA area, including those that fall in the Terrain and plains would only use English and Nepali in signboards apparently taking the language war to polarise the populace. GJM supporters held a demonstration in front of Banga Bhavan in New Delhi, shouting slogans against "government atrocities and its bid to impose Bengali language on the people in the Hills" though the state government has already clarified that it does not have any such agenda. "Our party chief has written to the Prime Minister and union home minister Rajnath Singh to sympathetically consider our demand (for Gorkhaland)", he said.

After the GJM cadres clashed with the police following their protests against Mamata's visit to Darjeeling and her decision to make Bengali compulsory in the syllabus of schools across the state, the Army was called in to control the situation.

On Thursday, after violence erupted during protests by the GJM, the police lodged an FIR against Gurung.

The GJM denied its members were involved in violence. School and colleges have been exempted from bandh. We do not know what would happen from Monday even though GJM said tourism will not fall in the purview of shutdown. Most of the tourists have left the hill station in view of the GJM's agitation. Most government offices had reported normal attendance on Monday. In response to this, GJM president Bimal Gurung on Saturday asked the Chief Minister not to indulge in or promote "divisive" politics in the state.

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