Marchers revel in walk past barricade

The Telegraph

Jan. 25: Nearly 5,000 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters walked past a few scattered security personnel at Kumani before squatting down on the road saying they had entered the Dooars — a claim disputed by the Jalpaiguri district administration.

A senior district police officer admitted that with the talks on in Delhi today and the assurance from the Morcha that they would remain put, the police guard was a little down and the number of security personnel were also less than usual.

Although Morcha president Bimal Gurung did not take part in the incident, he emerged from his accommodation in the Kumani forest village around 5pm and said his party supporters had given a “just reply to the administration”.

“The Nari Morcha and our other supporters have given a fitting reply to the administration. We are on a peaceful padayatra and have entered the Dooars today. We are still willing to hold discussions with the administration in order to carry out our padayatra in peace,” Gurung told reporters at the spot.

“Police can stop me from entering the Dooars but they cannot stop the people. This is a movement of the people and they can never be stopped,” he said.

Sources at Kumani, 70km from Jalpaiguri town, said about 5,000 Morcha supporters had gathered in front of the police barricade that separated Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts in the morning shouting slogans in support of Gorkhaland. Just after noon, they were prevented from going no further than 100 metres by Morcha leaders present on the spot. Sources also said there were no more than a handful of police, including some women constables, present when the surge happened.

“The members of the Nari Morcha (the party’s women’s wing) were at the top end of the crowd. The cops could do precious little to prevent the barricade from being breached,” said a source.

Jalpaiguri district magistrate Vandana Yadav, however, said the Morcha had not entered Jalpaiguri district. “They have been stopped well inside the jurisdiction of Darjeeling district’s Kalimpong subdivision. We will not relax Section 144 (in the Dooars) as long as their (Morcha’s) movement to enter the Dooars continues,” she said.

Jalpaiguri police chief Anand Kumar and divisional commissioner A.K. Singh visited Kumani around 4pm. “The barricade has been strengthened and no one has been arrested as they had not been able to enter Jalpaiguri. Such attempts will not be tolerated,” Kumar said.

However, a senior police officer said: “As soon as the barricade was breached police from Malbazar and Nagrakata were sent to the spot. A company of CRPF stationed at Nagrakata was also posted there.”

An official in the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation said the Morcha supporters had been staying in the WBFDC property in Kumani without permission. “Our officials in the area have been instructed to inquire into the matter and take appropriate action. This could mean lodging an FIR with the local police,” said the official.


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