The West Bengal Police on Saturday launched a massive search operation for Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling, PTI reported. The Criminal Investigation Department had issued a lookout notice for Gurung and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s General Secretary Roshan Giri on Friday.

Gurung, who was attending a meeting of the party on Friday, fled soon before security forces arrived at the venue. The lookout notice was issued against him for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast at Kalimpong police station on August 20, PTI reported. A civic volunteer was killed in the explosion.

Meanwhile, 14 leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, who were detained on Friday at the meeting, were produced in a court in Siliguri on Saturday.

Shutdown enters 80th day

The shutdown in the Hills, which has been on since June 15, entered its 80th day on Saturday. On August 31, one faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, led by party convenor Binay Tamang, had called off the shutdown till September 12. However, immediately after that, party chief Bimal Gurung said the bandh will continue. The Morcha had then expelled Tamang claiming he had violated the party line and indulged in anti-party activities, PTI reported.

Darjeeling has faced violence since June when West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Although she had said that Hill districts would be exempted from the rule, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

On August 29, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, after talks with several leaders of political parties in Darjeeling, had said a separate Gorkhaland was beyond the state’s jurisdiction. She had said the talks were “fruitful, constructive and positive” and that the government had requested for a withdrawal of the strike in the tourist town.