GJM picketers held for setting fire to car on Sikkim lifeline as bandh begins

Read more below

By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 29.07.13

Darjeeling (WB), Jul 29 (PTI): Over ten supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha were arrested Monday when they burnt down a motorcycle and a car at Rambi on National Highway 31 to enforce a three-day bandh in support of Gorkhaland.

The GJM supporters burnt down the vehicles at Rambi on NH31, where they were picketing since 6am when the shutdown began, police said.

The police intervened and arrested 12 GJM supporters, while the remaining fled from the picketing spot on the arterial highway connecting West Bengal with Sikkim.

Darjeeling town wore a deserted look with traffic off the roads and markets and offices closed.

There is a Supreme Court directive that the highway has to be kept free during bandhs and blockades in the hills.

Superintendent of Police Kunal Agarwal said that stringent action would be taken for destruction of government property and that the police would ensure that the NH 31, Sikkim's lifeline, remain opened.

District Magistrate Soumitra Mohan also said that strong steps would be taken in case of breakdown of law and order.

The bandh is to demand Gorkhaland, which is a 107-year-old demand, the GJM said.

A thousand GJM supporters were picketing at Chowkbazar with party flags, while large gatherings of party supporters were also reported from Jorbungalow, Mirik, Sukhiapokhri, 9th Mile and 26th mile.

GJM supporters also barricaded roads in the Kalimpong and Kurseong subdivisions.

Some foreign tourists still remained in the hills, while around 2000 domestic ones left on Sunday, police said.

The only traffic on the roads were ambulances and vehicles carrying people to weddings or sradh ceremonies.

There was no work in the tea gardens in the hills.

The GJM argues that if the Centre can agree to a separate state of Telengana, it can very well do so for Darjeeling.

Recently, a six member GJM team, headed by GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri, had gone to Delhi, with the demand.

GJM president Bimal Gurung has threatened to quit his post as the Chief Executive Officer of the Gorkha Territorial Administration, the hill council that has replaced the earlier Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.