7 injured during GJM bandh

Kolkata, Feb 8 : A 24-hour shutdown by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in the Darjeeling hills and adjacent Terai areas on Saturday saw sporadic incidents of violence and affected life partially. In some places like Odlabari, GJM supporters clashed with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) members who were opposed to the bandh. Seven persons were injured in the clashes, some shops were ransacked and some vehicles set on fire.

Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) K L Tamta said: “The shutdown in three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district had some impact in Terai and the Dooars. There were small clashes in Odlabari, Banarhat and some other pockets, but police tackled the situation.” He said a contingent of police and Rapid Action Force has been deployed in sensitive areas.

In Odlabari, bandh supporters tried to close down some shops which the ABAVP activists opposed. After a verbal dual, a clash erupted in which both sides hurled stones at each other and fought with lathis. Four shops were ransacked and some vehicles set on fire near Odlabari police station. In Banarhat too, the two groups clashed, leaving seven persons injured.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said, “The CPM is backing some outfits that are trying to foil our bandh. But we have received great response from the tribals today. The bandh was a success.”

ABAVP leader Rakesh Lakra, however, said, “At some places, GJM supporters tried to forcibly shut down markets to which we opposed.”

Meanwhile, in Kolkata, a section of GJM leaders staged a “dharna” near the statue of Mahatma Gandhi today.

GJM’s Kolkata president Lahadup Lama said: “We want the government to ensure safety and security for our people in the Dooars. We also want it to arrest those who attacked us. We have already submitted their names to the government. The state government should open the 13 closed tea gardens in Dooars immediately.”