GJM calls indefinite strike in hills, defers it till Monday

Darjeeling, May 5 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Sunday called an indefinite strike in the Darjeeling Hills of northern West Bengal demanding the removal of a cop and arrest of the rival GNLF activists for “attacking” its members.

Activists from the GJM and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) clashed Sunday during a public rally in Mirik in the district. Police had to resort to baton-charge to control the melee. Two people have been injured in the clash.

The GJM is demanding the removal of Mirik police station incharge Sourav Sen, who allegedly led an indiscriminate baton charge on its activists, injuring several of them.

“We have informed the government, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the police top brass that unless Sen is suspended and the GNLF miscreants are arrested, there will be an indefinite strike in the hills,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.

However, the GJM leadership later relaxed the strike call till Monday evening to allow the West Bengal government to act on its demands.

“We do not want to disturb the tourist season. So we have decided to defer our strike call till Monday 6 p.m. If by then the government does not remove Sen and arrest the GNLF goons, we will go ahead with the strike,” said the leader of GJM, which has called for intensifying its demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

“The GNLF had organised a public rally without police permission. They attacked our people who were participating in an authorised rally. Police indiscriminately baton-charged our people,” Giri said.

“A strike does affect tourism, but if our demands are not met, then we have no other way out. We have to go for strikes,” said Giri.

The dragging campaign for Gorkhaland has led to the loss of many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting the economic mainstays – tea, timber and tourism – of the northern hills of the state.

The Subash Ghising-led GNLF spearheaded the Gorkhaland agitation till a few years back, but then lost ground to the GJM, which is now the numero uno outfit in the hills.

The GJM now runs the GTA after sweeping its maiden territorial elections in July last year.

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