The situation in Darjeeling continues to remain volatile as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) plans to take out a procession today to honour those who died in the protests on Saturday. Three people were reportedly killed yesterday in the clashes between the GJM supporters and security forces in the hill town.
According to sources, the West Bengal state government has blocked mobile internet in the hills in a bid to prevent people from mass gathering. Broadband connections are believed to be working in some parts but the network is extremely patchy.
All economic activities in Darjeeling, a popular tourist destination, have also come to a complete halt. Tourists were left stranded after the GJM called for strike. After yesterday’s violence, Bimal Gurung had released a video statement calling for all Gorkhaland supporters to step out of their houses to honour the ‘martyrs’.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, in a press conference, alleged that Bimal Gurung-led GJM had links with terror groups in the northeastern states.
The streets of Darjeeling looked like a war zone with protesters and police repeatedly clashing in different parts of the town. It later emerged in the day that three people in the region had lost their lives in the clashes. While GJM alleged the three protesters were killed in police firing, but the state administration denied the charge. According to reports, the army has also been deployed in the area.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh is believed to have had a phone conversation with Mamta Banerjee to discuss the situation.
The protests were triggered after raids were conducted on Gurung’s house following his party’s opposition over the state government’s decision to make Bengali language mandatory in schools. Darjeeling and adjoining hills have a dominant Gorkha population who speak Nepali language.
The state administration had later clarified that the Bengali language in schools would be optional and not compulsory.
Meanwhile, after yesterday’s protests, Gorkhas across the country have been sharing graphic images of those injured and calling for support to bring back peace in the region. Many of them have turned their display pic black on social media sites as a mark of protest against the police’s high handedness.
Darjeeling had seen a bloody agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland in 1980s when about 1,200 people lost their lives.