The West Bengal Police on Saturday said it had inputs that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha was hiring Maoists from neighbouring countries for a prolonged underground armed movement for a separate state, PTI reported. The Maoists have been hired as mercenaries to train the GJM cadres.

“It may target government properties and senior police and administrative officials to aggravate the situation,” Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said. The West Bengal police believe the GJM is training its members under the guise of its outfit Gorkhaland Personnel.

The GJM has stockpiled a huge cache of arms and ammunition in the last few years, an unidentified official told PTI. “We have intelligence reports that they are preparing for underground armed movement in the hills,” the official said, adding that somewhere between 25 to 30 mercenaries have been hired by the party.

The state government is believed to be considering sending several senior IPS officers, who have experience in countering Maoist insurgency, to the area. Other officers of the counter insurgency force have already been sent to the Hills.

The GJM has said the allegations were completely baseless. “These statements are being made to malign us and derail the democratic movement,” party general secretary Roshan Giri said.

Salary cut for government employees in Darjeeling

Meanwhile, the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to cut the salaries of more than 6,000 employees in the Hills who failed to attend work during the indefinite strike, The Telegraph reported. There are about 10,000 government employees in Darjeeling.

The decision comes days after the officials at the Darjeeling district magistrate office went on a mass leave following threats by the GJM. “With more and more people facing hardships every day, the Morcha and other hill parties supporting the agitation might be forced to rethink,” an unidentified official told the English newspaper. “People might start questioning the purpose and the course of the agitation they are leading.”

The Darjeeling unrest

Violence broke out in Darjeeling in June after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Though she had said that hill districts will be exempted from the rule, the GJM began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.