GJM calls indefinite strike from tomorrow; Life paralysed in Hills

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Siliguri, Jun 9 (UNI) Close on the heels of today's 24-hour bandh in three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) called for an indefinite strike from tomorrow in support of Gorkhaland.

Informing this to newspersons here, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said the strike would cover the areas falling under the proposed map of Gorkhaland.

However, Mr Giri had assured of exemption for tourists from the purview of the strike.

Some GJM members were observing a hunger strike in various places of Siliguri sub-divisional areas and the outskirts, Mr Giri said.

Asked if the hunger strike would continue, Mr Giri said the decision would be taken in the party's Central Committee meeting late tonight.

Mr Giri also blamed the CPI(M) for aiding the Jana Chetana Mancha in "orchestrating the attack" on the GJM supporters yesterday, and alleged that those observing a hunger strike had been harassed.

GJM president Bimal Gurung also reiterated the party's call for the indefinite strike.

Meanwhile, life was disrupted throughout the three subdivisions following the GJM-sponsored 24-hour bandh to protest the violent clash between the GJM and Jana Chetna activists last evening.

Darjeeling DIG D T Lepcha said prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC continued to be in force and the bandh had been peaceful so far except some tension in Bagdogra and Naxalbari areas.

Around 40-50 Gorkha families had fled from the Baisapara and Raipara areas in Naxalbari, fearing further clashes, police said.

They said additional security forces had been deployed in all the three subdivisions and patrolling operations were on to prevent any untoward incident.

All business establishments and educational institutions remained closed. Vehicles too stayed off the road.

At least 17 people were injured, two of them critically, when the GJM and the Jana Chetna activists clashed violently at Bagdogra last evening.

The clash erupted when the GJM activists blocked the National Highway, demanding a separate Gorkhaland. The workers of the Jana Chetna, an apolitical organisation opposed to the statehood demand, gathered there to lift the blockade, resulting in a violent clash in which 17 people sustained injuries.

Police had to lob teargas shells to disperse the warring groups.

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