Violence after anti-Gorkhaland protesters burn bike

October 21st, 2008 - 12:48 am ICT by IANS  

Siliguri (West Bengal), Oct 20 (IANS) Violence erupted here as irate opponents of the Gorkhaland agitation in northern West Bengal Monday evening burnt a bicycle bearing a number plate beginning with GL for Gorkhaland.Activists of the Janachetana Mancha, which is opposing the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s agitation for a separate Grokhaland state to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling district and some adjacent areas, set the bike on fire after asking the riders to alight at Bagdogra under Siliguri sub-division.

The incident sparked off tension and police reinforcements were sent to the area, district administration sources said.

After remaining silent spectators to the alleged strong arm tactics of the GJM for months, the police swung into action and initiated specific cases against those forcing people to use ‘GL’ number plates on vehicles in various parts of Darjeeling, Kurseyong and Kalimpong.

Sixteen cases were started for writing ‘Gorkhaland’ on the signboards of government offices and commercial establishments, Darjeeling district police chief Rahul Srivstava said.

Four cases were filed against those using GL number plates.

“The police have been asked to remove Gorkhaland from signboards. Government officers have been told to lodge complaints if they find Gorkhaland written on the signboards of their offices,” said Darjeeling District Magistrate Surendra Kumar Gupta.

Aamra Bangali, another group opposed to the Gorkhaland demand and claiming to espouse the cause of the Bengali speaking people, has called a 24-hour strike in Darjeeling district and adjoining Dooars Tuesday protesting against the activities of the GJM.

The GJM has issued a diktat that ‘West Bengal’ should be replaced by ‘Gorkhaland’ on the signboards in the hill sub-divisions from Friday.

The outfit has also decreed that all vehicles plying in the Darjeeling sub-division (comprising the hill areas of Darjeeling, Kurseyong and Kalimpong) would have to bear nameplates beginning with GL (Gorkhaland) instead of WB (West Bengal).

GJM had earlier asked people not to pay taxes to the government and telephone bills to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and electricity charges to the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB).

The total dues on these counts have already crossed Rs.150 million.

The GJM, besides spearheading the movement in the hills for a separate Gorkhaland state, is also opposing the ‘Sixth Schedule’ status for Darjeeling district that offers greater autonomy to the hill governing body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

A round of tripartite talks held in New Delhi following the GJM’S demand has been inconclusive.

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

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