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Featured Image: GJM activists torching a police vehicle in Darjeeling town on Thursday afternoon. 

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 8 June: THE situation has turned volatile in Darjeeling town as activists of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) lobbed crude bombs and pelted stones on police after the cops stopped them from marching to the Raj Bhavan where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding the first-ever meeting of her Cabinet in the Hills.

Preliminary reports suggest that GJM activists have torched as many as four police vehicles and have left several police personnel injured. At the time of filing this report, police were trying to bring the situation under the control by firing teargas shells, but the violence is spreading in other parts of the town.

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The Chief Minister and her Cabinet colleagues are still at the Raj Bhavan, which is barely 300 metres away from the main site of the confrontation, even as the Cabinet meeting is over.

Since around 11 in the morning, a large number of GJM activists began a demonstration at Bhanu Bhavan Rangamancha in Darjeeling against state government’s decision to make Bengali mandatory in schools all over the state. They were also opposing the Mamata Banerjee’s government’s alleged interference in the functioning of the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

A government bus torched by GJM activists in Darjeeling.
A government bus torched by GJM activists in Darjeeling.

Post-noon, GJM president Bimal Gurung arrived at the spot leading a large rally of GJM activists. They tried to march towards the Raj Bhavan by breaking a barricade that the police had put up in front of Bhanu Bhavan. Police managed to stop them for some time.

But around 3 pm, GJM activists first burned the Chief Minister in effigy and then broke the police barricade. At this point, police resorted to a mild lathi-charge to stop GJM activists from marching towards Raj Bhavan. Peeved at this, GJM activists first pelted stones-bricks, glass bottles, and then lobbed crude bombs at the cops.

Several police personnel have got injured in the stone pelting. This made the police to make a retreat and take position at some distance. GJM activists then set four police vehicles on fire and continue to march ahead while lobbing crude bombs.

Police so far are trying to contain the situation by firing teargas shells, but the GJM activists have outnumbered the cops. The violence is spreading in other parts of Darjeeling town and scared by this, shops and hotels all over the hills have downed their shutters. Vehicles too have stopped plying all over Darjeeling and also on the Silguri-Darjeeling route.