Gorkha Janmukti Morcha President Bimal Gurung has appealed to tourists in Darjeeling to leave during the lockdown and warned them to stay back at their own risk. A heavy presence of law enforcement and Parliamentary personnel of the CRPF and RAF in full riot gear was deployed.
GJM supporters resorted to violent means and arson while protesting against the cabinet meeting presided by CM Mamata Banerjee. GJM called for an indefinite strike on Friday in demand for a separate state for the Gorkhas and against the imposition of Bengali language in schools. Five police jeeps, a government bus, and twelve other cars were torched by the protesters. The police had to resort to use of force by charging the protestors with sticks and tear gas shells.
About fifty policemen were injured when the protesters resolved to pelt stones at the law enforcement. One of the stones hit a policeman in the eye. Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code which allows the punishment of unlawful assemblies of people with any deadly weapon has been imposed in many parts of the Hills. Five protestors have been arrested and charged with arson after they were caught on CCTV taking an active part in the violence on Thursday. CM Mamata Banerjee wishes to tackle the protesters head-on as the continued protests are hurting the economy and tourism of the Hills.
Nearly 6500-7000 tourists left Darjeeling on Friday and an estimated of 2000 tourists returned to the plains on Saturday. Darjeeling is the summer capital of the state of West Bengal and continuous protests and riots are hurting the economy of the Hills. Army personnel has been trying to contain the riots. However, since the situation was normal on Sunday, they did not patrol the streets.
The All India Gorkha League refused to attend a meeting called forth by a party whose ‘hands are full of blood’. The state government issued a notification to keep offices and services running in contrast to the demand of a strike and it was made mandatory for all employees to attend work.