25 people, policemen injured in clash in West Bengal

January 16th, 2009 - 8:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, Jan 16 (IANS) At least 25 people, including two senior police officials, were injured Friday in a clash between Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is spear-heading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state, and its rival group, Adibashi Bikash Parishad in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, the police said.”At least 25 people, including District Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma and Deputy Inspector General North Bengal Zulfiqar Hassan, were injured Friday in a clash between GJM and Adibashi Bikash Parishad at Malbazar subdivision,” Inspector General (IG) North Bengal K.L. Tamta told reporters.

The GJM took out a rally Friday at Malbazar sub-division of Jalpaiguri, about 40 km from here to press its demand that Terai and Doors be included in the proposed Gorkhaland territory.

In protest, the Adibashi Bikash Parishad put up road blockades at important points across Malbazar Friday.

The two groups clashed at Malbazar College More near the National Highway-31 (NH-31), when GJM supporters tried to cross one of these blockades.

“The police had to carry out a baton charge and fire 11 rounds of teargas shells to control the situation. Besides, we have already called the para-military force to help us maintain law and order here,” Tamta said.

The authorities have banned assembly of four or more people under section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code (CrPC) in the area.

Meanwhile, GJM secretary Roshan Giri declared a two-day shutdown at the hills in protest of the violence.

“The GJM has decided to call a two-day shutdown across the hills, starting Friday evening in protest of the Malbazar incident where our supporters were beaten up by the police and our rivals. We have already detailed the incident to the central and state governments, demanding the arrest of the criminals,” Giri said.

The GJM, led by Bimal Gurung, has been leading a movement in the hills for a separate state, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district.

The central government in 2005 conferred Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), ensuring greater autonomy to the governing body.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills witnessed violence for about two years.

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