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GJM protests in Darjeeling: Army says situation under control

LiveMint logoLiveMint 09-06-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: After Thursday’s clashes between the police and Gorkha protestors in Darjeeling, the Army said on Friday the situation is under the civil administration’s control.

“The situation is under control of the civil administration,” a spokesperson for the Army said in a statement on Friday morning. The Army had deployed six columns of 43 personnel each on Thursday at the request of the state government of West Bengal.

There were, however, reports of sporadic violence on Friday as well, which the district administration wasn’t able to confirm immediately. An under-construction college is said to have been set ablaze by the protesting Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters.

The GJM, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has called a 12-hour bandh in the hills on Friday and enforced a shutdown.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is camping in Darjeeling and overseeing arrangements for despatch of tourists to the plains, said that she would not put up with vandalism anymore, clearly indicating that her patience is running thin.

Benerjee announced that a three-member committee of top police officers had been formed to look after law and order in the troubled district, where election to a local administrative body is due within a month.

Several police personnel were injured and government properties vandalised in Thursday’s clashes. The state government alleged GJM supporters attacked police personnel unprovoked soon after a cabinet meeting of the state government ended at Darjeeling Raj Bhawan.

Political battle between the GJM and Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress party is intensifying because of the upcoming election to the Gorkha Territorial Administration. On Thursday, after clashing with the police, GJM supporters laid siege to Darjeeling town for hours.

Curfew was imposed by the district administration on Thursday evening, while the Army columns were asked to be deployed, according to a statement by the Army.

Initially, two columns of 43 men each were sent to Darjeeling. Late at night, the state government asked for more personnel to be deployed as a “precautionary measure”, the Army said. Three columns are currently deployed in Darjeeling—the epicentre of the unrest—two in Kalimpong and one in Kurseong.

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