Darjeeling, Aug 12 IANS | 12 months ago

A vice president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and a leader of its women's wing were among those arrested as the indefinite shutdown in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling Hills continued for the 10th day Monday.


An all party meeting convened by the GJM in Darjeeling and attended by eight parties including the BJP and some hill-based outfits - decided to come under one platform in support of Gorkhaland and said the hill development body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration needed to be repealed "at an appropriate time".

GJM vice president and elected GTA member Kalyan Dewan was picked up from Kalimpong town in connection with some old cases of rioting, damaging public property and putting up blockades, said Additional Superintendent of Police (Kalimpong) Songmit Lepcha.

Geeta Chettri, leader of the GJM's Nari Morcha, was picked up from Darjeeling for her alleged involvement in some old cases, police said.

Two other GJM leaders, Samir Tirua and Sachin Tamang, were nabbed from Mirik in Kurseong, said Kurseong sub-divisional police officer Neema Lama.

Around 220 GJM leaders and workers have been arrested from the three hill sub-divisions -- Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong -- of Darjeeling district in the ongoing crackdown by police and paramilitary forces since the party renewed its movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland and started the indefinite shutdown Aug 3.

Armed with a Calcutta High Court order asking the state government to prevent forcible shutdowns, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Saturday had given a 72-hour deadline to the GJM to withdraw the shutdown or face "strong action".

Noting that the 72-hour ultimatum set by Banerjee was not a West Bengal government deadline, rather a court order, the GJM Sunday said it will continue its indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling Hills Monday, but without violating the court's directive.

The GJM supremo asserted there would be a 'peoples' curfew' beginning Tuesday, with a 24-hour relaxation Thursday on the occasion of Independence Day.

The all-party meeting at the Gymkhana Club was boycotted by the state's ruling Trinamool Congress, opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Gorkha National Liberation Front. Among those present were the GJM, All India Gorkha League and the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists.

"All eight parties which have supported Gorkhaland will be under one platform. There will be no opposition in the hills now," said Gurung.

"An all party meeting will take place on Aug 16 to decide the organizational setup. The house also agreed that GTA needs to be repealed but at an appropriate time."

The parties condemned the "recent police atrocities" and extended support for the public curfew.

The administration is on alert following an attempt by GJM supporters from various areas of the hills to converge at Chawkbazar of Darjeeling town.

Gurung has ruled out any talks with the state government, saying the GJM would only deal with the central government.

Trouble started afresh in the hills after the GJM stepped up its movement for Gorkhaland following the United Progressive Alliance's green light to a separate Telangana. There have also been two self immolation bids by Morcha activists with one of them succumbing.

The Gorkhaland movement for a separate state -- to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district -- has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region's economy based on tea, timber and tourism.

(Posted on 12-08-2013)