Bagdogra, June 9 : A road blockade by ethnic Gorkha community demanding separate statehood led to clashes with those opposed to the idea in est Bengal. Activist of the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM), a breakaway faction of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) had blocked the national highway at Bagdogra. Violence erupted as activists of the Jana Chetna Mancha (JCM), a political outfit opposing the GJMM questioned the blocking of the highway.
Police fired teargas shells as the situation turned violent with activists pelting stones at each other. At least 50 people were injured in the melee.
Activists of GJMM, who accused the police of being biased towards them, said they were being denied the right to organise a public meeting.
"We are being beaten up and tortured. Why is the administration not taking any action? Why are we only being targeted? We have only one appeal and it is that we should be allowed to organise a public meeting at Naxalbari," said Jatin Chetri, a supporter of GJMM.
The GJMM has been holding a hunger strike from June 2 to press their demand.
The district administration officials said the situation was under control.We always try to keep things in control to ensure peace. We always initiate talks and adopt means to solve issues. This time also we are trying to keep the situation under control. We have deployed police and the situation is peaceful," said Poritosh Das, additional district magistrate.
The GNLF launched the agitation for a separate state in 1980, but dropped the demand after New Delhi agreed to confer partial autonomy in 1988 for the Nepalese-speaking people.
An agreement was signed by the Central Government, State Government of West Bengal and the GNLF paving way for the setting up of the Autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (ADGHC) in 1988.
The State Government in West Bengal has been resisting demands for a separate state to Grkhas.