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Blaze & clash in Dooars garden

Alipurduar, March 10: A shop and a house belonging to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were set on fire last night in a tea garden, allegedly by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad who are against the recruitment of tribal youths for the Gorkhaland Personnel.

While the house belonged to Krishna Gurung, Binod Gurung owned the shop.

On Sunday, too, a Morcha leader had been beaten up. Manoj Gurung’s house was attacked by a mob which accused him of informing Hashimara police that armed Parishad supporters were moving around in Satali Tea Estate.

Earlier the same day, Rupesh Toppo was busy recruiting youths for the Gorkhaland Personnel, the special cell of the hill party, when some Parishad supporters threatened him of dire consequences if he did not stop immediately. They said they did not want any of the boys from the estate, 40km from here, to join the GLP.

Shortly after this, six Parishad supporters were arrested. While some Parishad members went to the police station to get the accused released, others beat up Gurung. The mob left the Morcha leader’s house after the police released the Parishad members at 4am yesterday.

Sandeep Ekka, the secretary of the Hashimara-Jaigaon Committee of Parishad, admitted that supporters of his organisation had attacked Manoj on Sunday. “We had visited Toppo and told him not to recruit the boys for GLP. On hearing that six of our men had been arrested, our supporters were agitated, all the more because Manoj had called them. He had tried to flee but we caught him.”

Ekka, however, denied the Parishad’s role in last night’s blaze. “We were on duty last night since we had heard that a group of Morcha supporters might enter the garden. Suddenly, we saw the shop was on fire. The police and fire brigade had visited the spot.” Rajesh Sharma, the media and publicity secretary in eastern Dooars of the Morcha, said a complaint has been lodged in the Hashimara police outpost against the Parishad supporters. “If action is not taken, then we will call a strike in the Kalchini block.”

S.R. Misra, the additional superintendent of police of Alipurduar, said extra forces have been deployed in the garden from this evening.

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