Darjeeling, 6 August: The West Bengal police has made more than 70 arrests including that of an Executive Member of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), Anit Thapa, since the indefinite strike in Darjeeling started on 3 August.
A big group of GJM supporters laid siege outside the sub-divisional court and the police station in Kurseong protesting against the arrest of Thapa, a close aide of GJM Chief Bimal Gurung. He has been sent to judicial custody for 14 days. Tea gardens in the sub-division, which were otherwise not under the purview of the bandh, shut down today to protest Thapa‚Äôs arrest.
16 women members of the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) were arrested from a guest house in Gorubathan. Protests were also staged outside the Gorubathan police station demanding their release.
On Tuesday, the GJM leadership in Darjeeling said, they were being provoked to indulge in violence by the state government, so that the latter could apply force to dampen the movement for the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. They also added that the arrests of the GLP members, which is a voluntary youth wing of the GJM, indicated the Bengal government’s urge to pressurise the activists to take a step backward.
“Despite the state government’s attempts to prevent us from protesting by making these arrests, they have only added strength to our movement,” said a central committee member of the GJM from Darjeeling.
While, IPS officer Jawed Shamim has been appointed as Officer on Special Duty in the hills, the West Bengal Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee arrived in Darjeeling later in the day and held a meeting with senior district officials. Soumitra Mohan, the District Magistrate said that action would be taken against the State government employees who have failed to turn up for work. It includes deduction of salary as per the services rules.
Meanwhile, the GJM delegation that is visiting the capital to impress Central leaders their demand for Gorkhaland, met Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram during the day.
Kamlimpong MLA, Dr. Harka Bahadur Chetteri said their one-point agenda remains the creation of Gorkhaland, stating that the GTA, was an ‚Äúinterim arrangement‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúnow a closed chapter‚ÄĚ.