Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters have torched a Block Development Office in Bajanbari area and a PWD office in Lebong area of Darjeeling as the Hills remain tense amid an indefinite bandh called by the GJM for a separate Gorkhaland and against the alleged imposition of Bengali language in schools. There is heavy deployment of police and CRPF in the area, especially outside the district magistrate’s office.
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Police pickets, barricades have been placed in front of government offices, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices and RAF and a sizeable number of women police personnel have been deployed, Darjeeling District Magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta told PTI. "The administration will act as per the law if anybody is found forcing others as well as establishments to participate in the bandh," the DM said. She said that the Army was present in the hills as a "backup".
Eight suspected GJM activists have been detained for indulging in arson. Several hotels have been closed and very few vehicles are on the roads. Toy Train services have been suspended, reports PTI. Most eateries, shops, markets and private offices downed their shutters and GJM party flags were seen fluttering all over the hills.
Violence had erupted after GJM supporters tried to break the police barricades and march to the venue of the cabinet meeting to protest the "imposition" of the Bengali language in the schools in the hills. The hill town had remained peaceful for several months as the GJM-led agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland had taken a backseat.
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"All state government offices in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts will remain open and all employees should report for duty on each day till such bandh is not withdrawn…. Any absence will be considered as a break in service and no salary will be admissible unless covered by reasonable grounds," a government notification said.
The GJM, a BJP ally, has called for an indefinite shutdown of state government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices, but kept educational institutions, transport and hotels out of its purview. To counter the bandh, the Trinamool Congress government has ordered all its employees and those of the institutions receiving grants-in-aid from it to attend office on all days till the agitation continues, warning that absence from duty will be considered a break in service.
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