Violence in Darjeeling, Ghising shifts to Siliguri

July 26th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata/Siliguri, July 26 (IANS) Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) supremo Subash Ghising was shifted Saturday evening from his hill residence to Siliguri town of West Bengal’s Darjeeling district after the rival Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) set a 15-day deadline for him to leave, an official said. Violence continued in the hills for the second day as GJM supporters staged a demonstration against GNLF leaders and torched the houses of two leaders of the party, which had led the movement for the creation of a Gorkhaland state in the Darjeeling hills for almost three decades.

“If Subash Ghising does not leave the hills within 15 days we will drive him away,” GJM president Bimal Gurung told reporters at a press conference in Darjeeling town Saturday.

Following the threat, the state government decided to relocate Ghising to the plains of Siliguri.

“Ghising has been shifted to a guest house in Siliguri for safety reasons. He was initially reluctant to shift base, but in face of the agitation he agreed to leave the hills,” Home Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti said at the state secretariat here.

Agitated supporters of GJM, now spearheading the Gorkhaland movement, attacked Ghising’s house in Darjeeling Friday and staged an angry demonstration.

Violence was sparked off Friday after a few GNLF leaders gathered at Ghising’s house to chalk out plans for the Martyrs’ Day of Gorkhaland movement, observed by GNLF supporters for the past two decades.

Police sources said GJM activists threw bricks and stones at the GNLF supremo’s house demanding he leave Darjeeling immediately.

Another GNLF leader Dipak Gurung’s residence was also set afire, following which a bullet fired from inside the residence killed GJM women’s wing leader Pramila Chhetri Friday.

GJM activists alleged that Gurung himself had fired, and he has been taken into judicial custody Saturday, said Kundanlal Tamta, police inspector general (North Bengal).

The GJM supporters continued their demonstration Saturday and set fire to houses of GNLF leaders Dawa Pukrin and Mouri Kalikutey.

With the GJM twice giving calls for indefinite shutdowns, Darjeeling Hills, Siliguri and the Dooars were on the boil since June. Tea and tourism - the bread and butter of the region - has been severely hit.

The GJM is also opposed to the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that ensures greater autonomy to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

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