Darjeeling shutdown continued on Sunday as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called a protest rally to step up its demand for a separate state.
Clashes in Darjeeling between police and GJM protesters turned violent a day before as GJM protesters hurled petrol bombs, stones and bottles at the police. The security forces responded with teargas shells and resorted to baton-charge to disperse the mobs.
According to sources, the West Bengal state government has blocked mobile internet in the hills in a bid to prevent people from mass gathering. Broadband connections are believed to be working in some parts but the network is extremely patchy.
All economic activities in Darjeeling, a popular tourist destination, have also come to a complete halt. Tourists were left stranded after the GJM called for strike. After yesterday’s violence, Bimal Gurung had released a video statement calling for all Gorkhaland supporters to step out of their houses to honour the ‘martyrs’.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday appealed to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) protesters not to resort to violence and, instead hold dialogue with the government to resolve the issue.
He said resorting to violence would never help them in finding a solution and asked the people living there to remain calm and peaceful.
“All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment,” Rajnath said.
In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution, he said, emphasising that every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue.
“I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence,” the home minister said in a series of tweets.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee went on the offensive on Saturday and accused the Modi government of encouraging the stir, claiming there was a “deep-rooted” conspiracy” behind it even as she slammed the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for terrorist links.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung has termed as “white lies” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim that the agitation in Darjeeling hills was supported by insurgent groups, and asserted the struggle for a separate Gorkhaland state would be intensified.
“The allegations are baseless, Mamata Banerjee is trying to mislead people. It is not a political fight but a fight for our own identity. We will not stop until and unless Gorkhaland is achieved. The struggle will intensify in the hills,” Gurung said in an audio-visual statement.