SDO injured as GJM takes out rally near Darjeeling crossing

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Siliguri, May 3 (UNI) Siliguri SDO Smitha Pandey sustained minor injuries when Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists hurled bricks at the police and Darjeeling administrative staff in Dagapur after they were not allowed to begin their fast-unto-death agitation at Darjeeling crossing here today.

IG, North Bengal, K L Tamta said, ''A 8,000-strong rally of GJM supporters were proceeding towards Darjeeling crossing from Pintail village to sit on the hunger strike. Although they had permission to reach the crossing, they were still not allowed to sit on their scheduled strike at Darjeeling More.

''We had orders to stall them until the permission was granted,'' he explained. ''But the Morcha activists were not ready to wait.

They turned violent and began hurling stones and bricks at us,'' he added.

As a result, the SDO sustained minor injuries, he said.

However, after they were granted permission, they calmed down and began their scheduled fast-unto-death on the third day of their agitation.

'' Although tension persists in the area, the situation is under control and additional security arrangement has been made to avoid any untoward incident,'' the IG said, adding several senior officials of his department were presently on the location.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Siliguri district administration granted permission to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to carry on their fast-unto-death at Darjeeling More here.

Official sources said a meeting was held this morning between GJM leaders and the district administration at Pintail village in Siliguri district where the district administration granted permission to the Morcha to carry out their fast at Darjeeling More.

However, when the Morcha supporters reached the location, they were told that their the permission request was pending and would be allowed only after the permit came through.

''This agitated the Morcha rallyists and they turned violent,'' the IG said. ''We tried to restrict them, but they began throwing stones and bricks on us.'' However, prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC continued to be in force within a radius of 200 metres around the Siliguri court and Sub-Divisional Office (SDO).

Meanwhile, the GJM members continued their indefinite hunger strike in the hill areas for the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Teams comprising 11 agitators each had assembled in front of the Darjeeling District Magistrate's office, Kurseong and Kalimpong SDOs, Mirik Block Development Office (BDO) under Kurseong Sub-Division as well as in front of a few BDOs at Dooars area.

Police said additional security forces as well as the Rapid Action Force (RAF) had been deployed at strategic locations across Siliguri and Darjeeling to maintain peace and patrolling operations were on.

No untoward incident had been reported from anywhere so far although tension prevailed both in Siliguri and Darjeeling districts, the police said.

Yesterday, veteran Marxist leader Jyoti Basu called for immediate steps to prevent the political situation in West Bengal from becoming ''dangerous''.

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