GJM accuses central troopers of excesses, Darjeeling remains paralysed

Darjeeling, Aug 24 : The GJM Saturday accused the central paramilitary troopers of committing "excesses", even as normal life remained paralysed in northern West Bengal's Darjeeling hills following an indefinite protest called to press for release of arrested party activists.

Shops, markets, banks, post offices, educational institutions and central and state government offices remained closed, and vehicles kept off the roads in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district - Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong - on day four of the 'Ghar Bahira Janta (people in the streets)' movement launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), officials said.

With 724 of its leaders and workers taken into custody in recent weeks after the state government cracked down on the renewed movement for formation of a state of Gorkhaland, the GJM attacked the central troopers.

"The paramilitary forces in the hills are using excessive force to enter people's house during raids and also randomly searching every part of the house.

"Some people have also complained that many things have been found missing after these raids," GJM president Bimal Gurung said in a Facebook post.

"The GJM strongly condemns these atrocities by Paramilitary forces in the hills," he said.

GJM activists clashed with the police in Mirk of Kurseong sub-division. There were no reports of any fresh arrests Saturday.

The party announced it would stay away from the hill development body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) meeting Sep 4 - where an interim chief executive is likely to be elected in place of Gurung, who resigned from the post in July.

Addressing a rally in Darjeeling town, GJM town committee's assistant general secretary Raju Pradhan said the outfit wanted the GTA dissolved.

The GJM had called for the Ghar Bahira Janata agitation after its assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang was arrested Thursday in connection with the some old cases.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is slated to visit Darjeeling Sep 10-12 following an invitation from the Lepcha development board. This would be her first tour to the hills after the recent flare up that has seen a series of shutdowns and other forms of protest disrupting normal life.

In Kolkata, the state government said it will provide essential commodities like rice and flour at a subsidised rate through 30 outlets in the three hill subdivisions starting Monday.

Food camps will be set up in police stations across the subdivisions where a kilo of flour and 1.6 kilos of rice will be sold at Rs.7 each per individual, said Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mallick.

"Beginning Monday, 11 outlets will become functional and by Wednesday, we will operate a total of 30 such camps. Block development officers, food department officials and if necessary district administration officials will also be present," Mallick said at the state secretariat.

Trouble started afresh in the hills after the GJM intensified the Gorkhaland movement following the United Progressive Alliance's (UPA) green light to a separate Telangana.

Two GJM activists have attempted self-immolation and one of them succumbed. The state government has ruled out any division of the state.

The Gorkhaland movement has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region's economy, based on tea, timber and tourism.

--IANS (Posted on 24-08-2013)

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