Ban on public gatherings continues, tension in Dooars

January 18th, 2009 - 7:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, Jan 18 (IANS) Prohibitory orders banning gathering of more than four people continued in parts of the Dooars area of West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district Sunday, a day after violent clashes between workers of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) and the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) left 10 people injured. The GJM, fighting for a separate Gorkhaland state, announced it would hold public meetings in the Dooars over the next two days.

“The rallies will be held in Malabazar tomorrow (Monday) and Nagrakata Tuesday,” said GJM press and publicity secretary Binoy Tamang.

But the rallies could become a new flashpoint of trouble with the police asserting they would not allow the rallies without formal permission.

“They must take all proper permissions first,” said Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) Kundan Lal Tamta.

Tamang, however, said that the party would go ahead with the rally with or without police permission.

Meanwhile, Tamta said four companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would arrive here in the next couple days to control the escalating violence in the region.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters 5,000 members of its volunteer force Gorkhaland Police would descend on the Dooars from the Darjeelign hills for the rally.

The GJM, which earlier gave a call for non-payment of taxes, Sunday said it would itself collect all revenues. “We will come up with a revenue collection unit within two-three days. The collected revenue would be used to carry out development work in the hills,” said Giri.

The orders banning public gatherings continued in Malbazar, Jaigaon, Nagrakata and Banarhat areas of the Dooars. There was heavy police patrolling on the roads, besides police pickets were set up at several points.

At least 10 people, including two senior police officers, were injured following a violent clash Saturday.

The police resorted to a baton charge and fired teargas shells to quell the violence which started in the Malbazar and Nagrakata areas when GJM activists tried to stop ABAVP supporters from work at a tea estate.

The situation spun out of control as members of both groups went on the rampage and torched five houses.

Following the clash, the ABAVP supporters also called an indefinite shutdown in the plains from Saturday, but withdrew it later.

The two groups also fought a pitched battle Friday as ABAVP stopped a rally taken out by GJM activists at Malbazar sub-division of Jalpaiguri, about 40 km from here. The rally was taken out to press its demand for inclusion of Terai and Doars in the proposed Gorkhaland territory.

In protest, the Adivasis - who are against the GJM’s bid to include the plains areas in their agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state - put up road blockades at important points across Malbazar.

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 had witnessed violence for about two years.

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