Normal life was affected and there was near total shutdown in the Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisions of the hills on Saturday, the first day of the indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate State of Gorkhaland. However, there were no fresh incidents of arson.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told journalists at the State Secretariat that “firm action has already been taken” to control the situation in Darjeeling. Markets, shops, commercial establishment, schools, colleges, government and private offices remained closed and most vehicles remained off the road.
“The support which the people extended to the strike reinforces their commitment to the demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland,” Binoy Tamang, the assistant general secretary of the GJM told The Hindu over telephone.
While the GJM took out rallies in certain areas, supporters of the party's youth wing rolled bare-bodied on the streets of Darjeeling town in support of the statehood demand.
GJM supporters also stalled generation at Ramam and Rimbik Nippon Hydel power project, which is under the West Bengal State Electricity Development Company Limited- Prakash Gurung, member of the GTA was arrested for his role in the incident.
According to the police, five more persons were arrested in connection with incidents of arson reported late on Thursday. Five companies of the Central armed police forces were patrolling different areas.
Meanwhile, a six-member delegation of the GJM now in New Delhi, held a meeting with Union Minister and NCP leader Sharad Pawar. The delegation is likely to remain in New Delhi for the next few days and willtry to meet senior Congress and BJP leaders on the issue, he said.