Police had to resort to lathi-charge to disperse Gorkha Janmukti Morcha protesters in Darjeeling when protesters allegedly set fire to police vehicles on Thursday. GJM supporters tried to break the barricades put up by the police and hurled brickbats. They also damaged some police vehicles, police sources said, adding that some security personnel received injuries.
Meanwhile, the state government called in the Army to contain the situation. More than 10,000 stranded tourists are advised to return back to hotel.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and most of the cabinet ministers were present in the hill town apart from Chief Secretary, Home secretary and other high officials. The GJM supporters held a dharna and raised slogans against the chief minister.
GJM protesters, face covered with black cloth, blocked the road near Bhanubhakt Bhaban, Darjeeling Station and Batashia. They also burnt effigy of Mamata Banerjee. Also, unrest was also seen at Darjeeling in Siliguri and Kaljmpong. The GJM accused the TMC government of trying to disrupt peace in Darjeeling by its "divide and rule policy" and called a 12-hour shutdown in the hills tomorrow.
Asked about the GJM's agitation, Mamata Banerjee said, "They have the democratic right. Let them do it. They have no issue. Let there be competition for development," she said.
GJM protests started after it lost to TMC in the last civic polls and it was after three decades any party from plain area has formed board at Mirik.
Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee announced that a new state Secretariat will be set up in Darjeeling district and the new building named after Mount Everest summitteer Tenzing Norgay. Around 3,500 youths will be given professional training to enable them a chance to appear for campus interviews in various sectors. She also announced eight new state buses will be run from the picturesque hill town of Darjeeling to Mirik for the facility of tourists.
Claiming that the state government has undertaken several major "administrative reforms", Banerjee announced a new "West Bengal Higher Civil Service" that would enable West Bengal Civil Service officers to become promotee Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers within 8 to 10 years.
OneIndia News (with inputs from PTI)