Left activists block key West Bengal highway

January 9th, 2009 - 9:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri (West Bengal) Jan 9 (IANS) Tension erupted in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Friday as hundreds of activists of the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) youth wing staged five-hour blockade on the National Highway (NH)-31, the only road access to north-east states. According to police sources, the activists of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) demanded the arrest of a Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leader following a scuffle between the activists of the two parties.

The DYFI staged a five-hour long sit-in, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., causing severe traffic gridlock on the highway.

Thursday night a group of GJM supporters clashed with five DYFI activists near Salugara under Bhaktinagar police station area in Darjeeling.

The GJM supporters said the five DYFI activists, allegedly drunk, had torn off the GJM’s flag and insulted their movement for a separate Gorkhaland state.

“We sent a police contingent to the area Friday morning. Later, the blockade was withdrawn after police intervention,” a senior officer of Bhaktinagar police station said.

The police officer said they arrested five people, including four DYFI activists and GJM Salugara unit secretary P.K Ghising Thursday night but the GJM leader was later released on a personal bond.

“The DYFI activists demanded re-arrest of Ghishing and staged a road blockade on the NH-31 today morning (Friday),” said the officer.

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

The central government in 2005 conferred the 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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