Darjeeling: Premises connected to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung was raided by the police on Thursday. The security personnel also arrested party workers, leading to the party calling for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling Hills.
The police have said that the raids at the premises in Singmari and Patlebas areas in Darjeeling recovered arrows, sharp weapons and explosives.
“The GJM is saying that bow and arrows are traditional weapons but our inquiry revealed that this was kept to attack the police. We have seized some firearms also. Some GJM leaders are arrested and we are going to take stern action against the people involved in the riot and arson,” said ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma, while adding that policemen were also injured in the incident.
The police, however, denied that Gurung's residence had been raided.
Sources have said that Bimal Gurung has gone underground and there are no traces of him. “A massive hunt has been launched to arrest him for instigating the mob for rioting and arson. We raided some of the places but he could not be find. We are trying to track him,” he said.
Infuriated by the police raid, the GJM called for an indefinite shutdown in the hills from Thursday, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
"The state government is indulging in politics of witch-hunting. The police and the state government are provoking us to call an indefinite strike in the hills. We will inform the Centre about the atrocities of the state government. We have called an indefinite shutdown in hills from today," said Giri.
“We have decided to go ahead with the Gorkhaland movement and want the Centre to intervene in the matter for speedy execution,” added Giri.
Hours after the raids GJM Yuva Morcha leaders wreaked havoc in Kalimpong by setting a government resort on fire besides attacking, Darjeeling SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi's vehicle and the Para-military forces with petrol bombs.
Soon after incident councillor of ward No 16, Barun Bhujel, and another GJM leader, Vinod Pradhan, were arrested for leading the mob and trying to damage government properties including the Sericultural Institute and Pedong Police station.
The raids came on the fourth day of the GJM-sponsored indefinite strike in government and GTA offices in the hills.
The development also came a day after Gurung said that the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland would go on till it was achieved. He had asked tourists to avoid visiting Darjeeling.
The GJM's call for a separate state of Gorkhaland gained momentum after six other hill parties extended their support to GJM and unanimously passed a resolution, demanding a separate state on Tuesday.
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), an ally of the ruling Trinamool Congress, broke its alliance with the TMC and joined hands with the GJM for a separate state.
The Centre had despatched 600 paramilitary personnel to assist the West Bengal government in restoring normalcy in violence-hit Darjeeling hills which witnessed incidents of stone pelting during GJM-sponsored indefinite bandh.
The Centre had also sought a detailed report on the prevailing situation in the hill district from the state government.