The agitation by supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling turned violent on Tuesday, the second day of their indefinite bandh, reported PTI. The protesters pelted stones and clashed with the police who were trying to stop them from enforcing a shutdown in government offices. “After we chased them, they ran away,” a senior police official told the news agency.
Violence erupted when GJM supporters took out a rally to demand separate Gorkhaland. They marched to government offices in Chowkbazar area and tried to stop people from reporting for work. The police also put up barricades in front of the government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration offices. Most government offices had reported normal attendance on Monday.
The GJM leadership, on the other hand, accused the police of “resorting to unprovoked lathi charge” on its supporters during the “peaceful procession”. “The more they use force against us, the more intense will be the struggle for a separate Gorkhaland state,” GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told PTI.
Meanwhile, GJM chief Bimal Gurung on Tuesday said he was in touch with the Centre and was pinning his hopes on the Bharatiya Janata Party. “The government at the Centre is our ally and they will surely consider our demand compassionately,” he told PTI.
Apart from the GJM bandh, north Bengal was also rocked by a sudden strike by tea garden workers, reported Hindustan Times. A joint forum of 26 trade unions have called for a two-day general strike among tea workers to demand immediate implementation of minimum wages for labourers in the sector.
The GJM agitation started on June 7 as a protest against the Mamata Banerjee government’s decision to make Bengali a compulsory language in state-run schools, despite the chief minister’s assurance that the new rule would not be imposed in the hill districts. However, the movement soon turned into the revival of the demand for a separate state.