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Gorkhaland unrest: Police vehicle, community hall torched

Darjeeling, July 19 (IANS) Incidents of violece and vandalism rocked in the northern West Bengal hills again as the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha-sponsored indefinite shutdown pressing for a seperate state of Gorkhaland, continued for the 35th day on Wednesday.

After a pro-Gorkhaland rally, a police vehicle was vandalised and torched in Darjeeling’s Judge Bazar area on Wednesday afternoon.

“A police vehicle was torched by the miscreants near Judge Bazar. There were no provocations or altercations between police and the rallyists. We are looking for the offenders,” Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi told IANS.

“There are no other major incidents of vandalism in the town since morning,” he added.

However, late on Tuesday, a century old Bengali community centre named Raj Rajeswari Hall was burnt to ashes in the Kurseong area. Another unattended Trinamool Congress party office was also set on fire in the dead of the night.

Condemning the recurring incidents of violence, arson and attacks on state property in the hills, state Tourism Minister Gautam Deb claimed the vandalism brought out that the GJM was opposed to any peace process in the region.

“They have vandalised and torched numerous state properties in the name of peaceful movement in the last one month. This clearly shows that Morcha is deliberately halting the peace process and normalcy in the hills. We strongly condemn this attitude,” Deb said.

Meanwhile, several rallies supporting the statehood demand were taken out by the GJM in various parts of the hills, including Darjeeling, the epicentre of the movement.

The picturesque hill town of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, that otherwise buzz with tourist activities at this time of the year, continue to wear a desolate look with all the hotels and markets closed for more than a month.

The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee on Tuesday decided to carry on with the ongoing shutdown and urged the central government to raise the Gorkhaland issue in the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

The committee also condemned the alleged police brutality in Darjeeling’s Mirik on Monday night.

–IANS
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