Darjeeling, Aug 14 IBNS | 2 years ago

North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb and West Bengal Food Minister Jyotipriya Mallick on Wednesday visited Darjeeling hills with rations and food as the indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in demand of a separate Gorkhaland state entered its twelfth day.

District Superintendent of Police Kunal Agarwal said that Darjeeling Municipal Councilor Subhomoy Chatterjee along with 28 others have been arrested overnight.

Giving details, he said so far 350 people have been rounded up since Aug 3, the day when the indefinite strike started crippling life on the hills.

Subhomoy Chatterjee has been an important functionary of the GJM, he added.

The two ministers left on Wednesday morning with rations and food for the Kurseong sub-division, Agarwal said.

Darjeeling hills, Kurseong and Klimpong subdivisions have been virtually sealed for outsiders since the last week of July, especially from Aug 3 following the indefinite strike called by the GJM demanding statehood for Gorkhas.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee however ruled out division of the state.

The state government has planned to provide food and rations at 11 outlets including Gharidhura, Panighata, Rohini, Mirik, Sukhiapokhari, Sourini, Bijanbari, Pedong, Gorubathan and Alghora.

Mallick said the ration would be distributed to the people, as the government had done in the-then Maoists dominated Jangalmahal in Midnapore.

"The crackdown on Darjeeling people would only inspire them to come under one umbrella and boost the movement for separate statehood," GJM leader Binay Tamang said about the arrest of Chatterjee from his home under non-bailable section.

State home secretary Basudeb Banerjee, who visited Darjeeling hills and Siliguri on Tuesday, said he would submit his reports to the court and the higher authorities.

Banerjee is expected to fly for Kolkata on Wednesday afternoon.

The GJM said it was not sponsoring the bandh, but the people on their own are observing 'Janata Curfew', to retaliate the Chief Minister's ultimatum to call off strike within 72-hour in effect from last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the GJM has given relaxation to the strike for four days till Aug 18 to mark the Independence Day on Aug 15.

The GJM is set to convene an all party meeting on Aug 16 to chalk out plans for intensifying the statehood agitation.

(Posted on 14-08-2013)