The Darjeeling hills wore a tense look on Sunday following a clash between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) at Soureni in the Mirik thana area of the district.
Immediately after the clash, the GJM announced an indefinite strike in the hills, demanding the immediate transfer of Sourav Sen, the officer-in-charge of the Mirik police station. Mr. Sen, the party said, acted in a partisan manner.
Shops and markets immediately began downing shutters even as the GJM leadership announced that it the administration had time till 6 p.m. on Monday to consider their demand.
“GJM president Bimal Gurung, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, was scheduled to visit Soureni to review the progress of development activities there. But GNLF activists tried to disrupt his visit and suddenly staged a rally without prior police permission or permission to use microphones. Instead of taking any action against them, the police lathicharged GJM leaders and party workers,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over telephone. The GNLF was “desperately trying to regain ground in Darjeeling by destabilising the region that too in the tourist season,” he alleged.
Demanding the immediate transfer of Mr. Sen and the arrest of “all GNLF antisocial elements,” Mr. Giri said the party would announce an indefinite bandh in the hills.
The GNLF, however, alleged that the GJM had attacked their party meeting. The GNLF, under the leadership of Subash Ghising, was the dominant political force in Darjeeling until the GJM usurped its political influence and renewed the demand for Gorkhaland.
District authorities said workers from both the parties were injured, and some were hospitalised. “For the time being the GJM leadership has delayed the call for a strike. We are monitoring the situation closely,” district magistrate Saumitra Mohan said.
GJM announces indefinite strike; demands immediate transfer of police officer Sourav Sen