The State government is provoking Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters to indulge in violence so that it can use it as a pretext to apply force to foil the movement for the creation of the separate State of Gorkhaland, the GJM leadership said on Tuesday — the fourth day of the indefinite strike called by it in Darjeeling hills.
While there was a near total shutdown in the hills, the silence was punctuated at various places by protests of the GJM supporters who had hit the streets in large numbers protesting against the arrests of elected members of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and several other activists of the GJM.
A large number of GJM supporters laid siege outside the police station and the sub-divisional court in Kurseong protesting the arrest of GTA member Anit Thapa late on Monday evening. He is a close aide of GJM president Bimal Gurung.
Protests were also staged in protest outside Gorubathan police station where 16 GJM supporters who are members of the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) were arrested from a guesthouse for alleged arson.
The arrests indicate the State government’s clamp down on the GLP, a voluntary cell of the GJM activists who, the party leadership has been maintaining, are social workers and have done no wrong.
There was picketing outside the office of the District Magistrate in Darjeeling and a number of GTA supporters participated in the protests with the words “We want Gorkhaland” scrawled on their bare chests.
“More than 70 persons have been arrested since the start of the indefinite strike on August 3. Despite the State government’s attempts to prevent us from protesting by making these arrests they have only added impetus to our movement,” Binoy Tamang, assistant general secretary of GJM told The Hindu over telephone from the district.
“The arrests made over the past few days have worsened the situation and narrowed down the scope for any discussions or talks with the State government,” Harka Bahadur Chettri, a member of the GJM delegation that is visiting New Delhi to impress on Central leaders their demand for Gorkhaland, told this correspondent over telephone.
The delegation met Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the Capital during the day.
Stating that the GTA, was an “interim arrangement” and a “now a closed chapter”, Dr. Chetteri said their one-point agenda remains the creation of Gorkhaland.
Meanwhile, the State’s Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee arrived in the Darjeeling hills later in the day and held a meeting with senior district officials. Soumitra Mohan, District Magistrate said that action would be taken against the State government employees who have failed to turn up for work. It includes deduction of salary as per the services rules.