The West Bengal government on Friday called in armed forces in Darjeeling to quell violent protests carried out by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha members in Darjeeling against the proposal to make Bengali mandatory in state-run schools. The protestors set police vehicles and a government bus on fire and clashed with security personnel, reported Hindustan Times. The GJM has also called for an indefinite strike.
Both GJM leaders and police officers were injured in Thursday’s clashes. However, the administration has not yet confirmed the total number of people injured on Thursday. Local channels have been asked to go off air until further notice.
“Morcha supporters are setting government property on fire,” an unidentified police official told The Times of India. “So far five police jeeps have been torched by the protesters. We had to resort to lathi charge and tear gas shelling to control the situation.”
The violence erupted soon after the Cabinet meeting, chaired by the chief minister, in Darjeeling town. “They are trying to make issue out of a non-issue and giving importance to their agitation will just highlight them” she said at the meeting. It was after 45 years that the state government had held a Cabinet meeting in the hill town.
The protests took place despite Banerjee exempting the schools in the hill district from the language proposal. On Monday, the chief minister had said in Mirik that the proposal to make Bengali compulsory in government schools would not be applicable to schools in the hill region.