Gorkhaland activists burn down forest office after elephant attack

November 26th, 2008 - 12:13 am ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, Nov 25 (IANS) Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) supporters burnt down a portion of the forest beat office at Kalabari in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district after one of their leaders was attacked and injured by a wild elephant here Monday night, the police said Tuesday. Three rooms of the beat office were gutted while the mob also beat up a forest guard, said district forest officer Kurseong Y.T. Aden.

Three fire tenders were sent to control the fire, he said.

Trouble erupted after GJM leader Hari Prasad Nirola was attacked by a wild elephant just outside his home at Nipania village.

Hearing his cries, about 100 to 150 GJM activists rushed to the scene, and turned their wrath on the nearby beat office.

Seeing the mob, the seven forest guards in the office tried to flee, but one of them was caught and thrashed by the attackers.

Police complaints have been lodged against eight people at the Naxalbari police station. But no one has been arrested so far, Aden said.

Meanwhile, state Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty told reporters here that there was a need for restoration of peace before the second round of the tripartite meeting on the Gorkhaland issue in New Delhi.

“So everybody has to be restrained, including the GJM,” Chakraborty said.

The date of the second tripartite talks was yet to be decided, the home secretary said, but hoped it would be successful.

The GJM has threatened to intensify its agitation if the tripartite meet did not yield any positive results.

“But I don’t think one or two meetings can solve the problem. We have to keep the dialogue process going. The problem has to be solved across the table,” the top bureaucrat said.

He termed as “unfortunate” the forcible closure of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) office in Darjeeling by the GJM, which is agitating for a separate Gorkhaland state to be curved out of the Darjeeling hill sub-division and parts of Dooars and adjoining areas.

“It is the DGHC which is the nodal body of all development work in the hills,” he said..

On the tribal movement that is gathering steam in the Dooars area, he said: “We are observing the situation. On Dec 1 the agitationists will submit a memorandum to the divisional commissioner of Jalpaiguri district.”

The tribal agitationists have opposed the GJM demand for inclusion of Dooars in the Gorkhaland state and demanded Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars.

The GJM has been spearheading a movement in the hills for a separate state.

The party organised indefinite shutdowns twice in the hills in June and July over its Gorkhaland demand, severely hitting tea and tourism industry - the bread and butter of the region.

A round of tripartite talks held in New Delhi to solve the problem has remained inconclusive.

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