Darjeeling, Aug 3: Violence intensified in the hills in northern West Bengal on the eve of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's (GJM) indefinite bandh in support of a separate state on the lines of Telangana in south India. A homeguard was set on fire while a GJM trade union leader was found murdered on Friday.
The homeguard was attacked at Prakriyathong by a group of miscreants and was admitted to a hospital, police said, while the union leader, Suraj Tamang, was found dead at Hebong near Darjeeling. Tamang's body had several injury marks, police said. The exact reason of the death would be confirmed after the post-mortem, police said. The GJM has accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of conspiracy behind the murder.
Besides, a forest bungalow in Takda, where state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stayed during her visit to the hills in January this year, was burnt down on Friday night. Two vehicles were torched at Mongpo while police booths at Ranglirangliyat and Rangamancha were also set ablaze. Nine people have been arrested till now and the police said all of them are GJM supportrs. The GJM has refuted the claim.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, who left for New Delhi with a delegation to meet central leaders, said before his departure that the GJM was not responsible for the violence an d blamed the opposition forces in the hills. He said the strike could be relaxed for a day or two after consultation with GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
Para-military forces have been deployed in the hills ahead of the indefinite violence. Security has been beefed up at government offices after Friday's incidents.
Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy, who visited Siliguri to take stock of the situation, said the Centre was instigating the situation for political mileage, reiterating that Darjeeling is a "part and parcel of West Bengal". The state Congress hit back at the TMC, saying it was putting the blame on the Centre for it could not manage the situation. Giri said the state government brought in the central forces to crush the Gorkhaland movement.
Students of various Darjeeling-based schools, both Indian and foreigners, were sent home on the eve of the strike. People stocked up essential goods and vegetables and food items were being sold at high prices because of high demand. Kerosene was unavailable though LPG was available.