Sent back, ex-armymen vow to return

The Telegraph

Siliguri, Feb. 13: A group of ex-servicemen on their way to Siliguri as part of the agitation for Gorkhaland promised to return tomorrow after security forces stopped them at the Panchnoi bridge and forced them to retreat to Sukna today.

The former armymen, members of the ex-servicemen wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, arrived at Panchnoi a little after 3pm only to be halted by a barricade of about 100 police and CRPF personnel. The marchers were accompanied by Morcha central committee members.

They confronted Siliguri subdivisional officer N.D. Sherpa and deputy superintendent of police S. Sinha and demanded to know why their peaceful march had been halted.

“We are demanding a CBI inquiry into the Sibchu firing where three of our innocent supporters were killed. We also want our party president, Bimal Gurung, to be allowed to take part in a peaceful padayatra in the Dooars,” said Dawa Lama, a Morcha central committee member.

The SDO said the marchers could not be permitted to enter Siliguri, as the administration could not take the risk of a law and order situation. The group returned to Sukna, 10km from the Panchnoi barricade on the outskirts of Siliguri, after 4.30pm.

The ex-servicemen, members of the Bharatiya Gorkha Bhutpurba Sainik Morcha, had begun their march from Darjeeling on February 9 and had halted at Sonada, Kurseong and Simulbari before arriving at Panchnoi today.

The inspector-general of police (north Bengal), Ranveer Kumar, said a request for another 11 companies of CRPF has been sent to the Centre. “There is a requirement to intensify security measures in all the 11 police stations in the hills and we have asked for an equal number of CRPF companies,” Kumar said. Currently, three companies of CRPF are posted in Darjeeling district.

The IG said police personnel have been told to open fire if police stations and outposts were attacked. On Friday night, security forces fired two rounds to ward of a group of miscreants who tried to attack the police station at Lodhama, 90km from Darjeeling.

“We have issued an order to all police stations and outposts to fire if they were attacked. Many such police stations and outposts are located in far-flung areas and are vulnerable,” Kumar said.

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