DARJEELING, Feb 23: Indian Police continued to crack down on the supporters of Gorkhaland Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which has been taking out rallies demanding a separate state — comprising Darjeeling and the surrounding areas of West Bengal — for Nepali speakers within the Indian federation.
Police arrested some 800 GJM activists from Jaya Gaun and Birpada in West Bengal from the rallies on Tuesday.
The GJM had begun an 11-day political march from Sunkosh on Thursday as a campaign to bolster support for Gorkhaland. After the police obstructed their rally in Hattipota, the GJM activists took out separate rallies from various places simultaneously.
“The march has not moved forward due to obstruction by the police,” said Dinesh Chhetri, a local journalist in Jalpaiguri.
According to him, the police set the arrested free after taking their photographs and making them sign a paper pledging not to participate in the rally again.
The local administration has clamped prohibitory orders against holding rallies and other political gatherings in view of the swelling demonstrations.
According to sources, chief minister of West Bengal visited Jalpaiguri on Saturday and ordered the local administration to take the demonstration under control. He also publicly stated that the state government would not hold talks with the GJM unless the latter withdraws its protest programs.
The GJM march that began at 2 am from Sibchu reached Kumani at 8 am and met GJM President Bimal Gurung who has been staying in Kumani for the last one month.
Meanwhile, five women activists of the GJM who are on a hunger strike at Bagrakot demanding a probe into the police killing of three JGM activists have continued their hunger strike. According to journalist Chhetri, the health condition of three of them is serious. Police had forcefully picked them up and admitted them to Jalpaigudi hospital last Sunday.
Meanwhile, the GJM has postponed the ongoing general strike in Darjeeling till March 7. According to GJM publicity department secretary Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the general strike was postponed due to the Tibetan festival of Lhosar.
The GJM is scheduled to hold a rally in New Delhi on February 24. Similarly, Gorkha ex-servicemen would hold hunger strike in front of various government offices from February 27.