Rajnath appeals for calm in Darjeeling


Banerjee, who chaired a high level meet at the state secretariat in Nabanna of the various development boards of the hills, said an all-party meeting will be held in Siliguri on June 22 to discuss the growing unrest in the hills.

On Saturday, Darjeeling had witnessed widespread clashes between GJM activists and the police in which one person was killed and 35 security personnel were injured, including an India Reserve Battalion officer.

Massive protests in Darjeeling and sporadic incidents of violence in Kalimpong and Kurseong marked the GJM-called "black day" in the north Bengal hills on Sunday while its 12-hour strike in Dooars - foothills covering parts of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts - received lukewarm response.

Referring to the CBI naming senior GJM leaders in the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang's murder, Banerjee said its chief Bimal Gurung was a "corrupt leader" trying to sell off the hills and hampering the development work taken up by the state government there.

"All of us want to assert our own independent identity which is a good thing because we have been united despite being so diverse in our cultural backdrop".

"We have come to know from the police that there is a link with terrorists. The struggle will intensify in the hills".

Darjeeling shutdown continued on Sunday as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called a protest rally to step up its demand for a separate state.

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On June 17 (Saturday) around 1 am, suspected Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters set fire to Goke II gram panchayat office under Bijanbari block about 25 km away from Darjeeling. Many Darjeeling residents, including the people from the minority community, joined the march, demanding peace to be restored in the hills. "I am ready to sacrifice my life, but I will not allow Bengal to be divided", she said.

The police said seven GJM supporters were arrested for their alleged involvement in the violence.

On BJP's stand regarding formation of smaller states, Shah said, "It is true that we are in favour of small states". West Bengal director general of police, Anuj Sharma, said the dead man appeared to have been shot but the circumstances were still unclear.

Eyewitness said security personnel initially fired tear gas shells to disperse the GJM protestors pelting stones at them, and later resorted to firing after the protest turned violent. "All parties concerned and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in an amicable environment", the home minister said.

He said resorting to violence would never help them in finding a solution and asked the people living there to remain calm and peaceful.

With GJM gearing up for a prolonged confrontation with West Bengal government over the Gorkhaland statehood issue, the party's leadership is planning to revive Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) - its "peacekeeping" wing.

The GJM, which is also an ally of the NDA government at the Centre, is looking forward to the Central government for a positive intervention in the matter.