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Gorkha Janmukti Morcha rival backs Statehood demand

first_imgIn a shot in the arm for the on-going agitation for a separate State of Gorkhaland, president of the Jan Andolan Party (JAP) and prominent leader of the Darjeeling hills, Harkha Bahadur Chettri on Friday voiced his support for the movement. Mr Chettri said also he was willing to join the forum of political parties calling for a separate State including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).High Court directive In a related development, the Calcutta High Court on Thursday directed the West Bengal government to restore peace and normalcy in the Darjeeling hills.The directions, passed by a division bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty, reiterated earlier orders of the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court that shutdowns or general strikes are illegal. The court also asked GJM representatives to be present during the next hearing on June 23.Arson reportedA cash counter of the Rimbick Hydel power plant and a primary health centre in Darjeeling were set on fire by miscreants as incidents of violence and arson were reported at various places in the Darjeeling hills. The Tarakhola forest bungalow at Kalingpong, a primary school, and a gram panchayat office at Merik were also destroyed by arsonists. The GJM denied its involvement in the violence but the police claimed to have arrested several GJM leaders in connection with the violence.Rival returnsMr Harkha Bahadur Chettri, a former GJM MLA from Kalimpong, had floated the JAP in January 2016. He also contested the 2016 Assembly polls with the support of ruling Trinamool Congress.“We were always in support of Gorkhaland. To join the forum of political parties I have given some conditions to the GJM. We are willing to join the other political parties provided our demands are met,” Mr Chettri told The Hindu.He said with “emotions running high on Gorkhaland”, the JAP has launched its programme. Earlier, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), one an arch rival, joined the GJM and participated in a meeting on June 13 with five other parties.Court seeks report In another development, the Calcutta High Court directed the principal secretary of the State Home Department to submit an interim report within two weeks on after assessing the damage caused to the public property during the shut down since June 9.The directive came during the hearing of a PIL petition, with the Court citing its 2013 order terming shutdownsjudgement where it has termed bandhs illegal. The court asked the West Bengal government to take necessary steps to prevent such incidents. The court also asked GJM representatives to be present during the next hearing on June 23. Violence and Arson Meanwhile incidents of violence and arson were reported at various places in the Darjeeling hills over the past 24 hours after the GJM called for a complete shutdown on Thursday after a raid on its president Bimal Gurung’s residence in Patleybas. A cash counter of the Rimbick Hydel power plant and a primary health centre in Darjeeling were set on fire by miscreants. The Tarakhola forest bungalow at Kalingpong, a primary school, and a gram panchayat office at Merik were also destroyed by arsonists. The GJM denied its involvement in the violence but the police claimed to have arrested several GJM leaders in connection with the violence.The Mamata Banerjee government has send seven more IPS officers to control the situation in the Darjeeling hills. At this moment more than a dozen of IPS officers along with three columns of area and paramilitary forces are deployed in Darjeeling. Earlier in the day Army and CRPF personnel held an area domination exercise in Patleybas which has turned violent on Thursday. A huge contingent was also deployed before GJM headquarters at Singamari.On the second day of the indefinite shutdown, life in Darjeeling town came to a complete standstill with shops, commercial establishments, hotels and educational institutions remaining closed. The streets of the country one of the most sought after holiday destination bore a deserted look with hardly any tourists and only a few locals coming out of their homes.last_img

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