Police seize arms, bows and arrows, baseball bats, sharp weapons, knives and crackers.
Darjeeling – Amid a tense situation in the Darjeeling hills, police on Thursday raided Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung’s residence and seized arms, bows and arrows, baseball bats, sharp weapons, knives and crackers. Early in the morning, police broke open the main gate of his house at Patlebas and recovered these things. Mr. Gurung was not present at that time.
Sources in the GJM said the weapons seized were actually their traditional equipment. “We are tribals, about to hold our traditional archery competition… they showed our traditional equipment as weapons. This is why we need Gorkhaland, our rights, our culture, our heritage, our traditions are not respected”.
GJM activists arrested in Singmari, Patlaybas
Police said some GJM activists were arrested in raids at Singmari and Patlebas areas of Darjeeling. “Some of the premises of Gurung and other GJM activists were raided. We conducted the raids on the basis of concrete information. The raids are still on. We have arrested a few GJM activists,” a senior police official told PTI on condition of anonymity.
The GJM has called for an indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills from Thursday, its general secretary Roshan Giri said.
“The State government is indulging in witch-hunting. The government is provoking us to call an indefinite strike in the hills. We will inform the Centre about the atrocities of the State government,” Mr. Giri told PTI.
The raids came on the fourth day of the GJM-sponsored strike in the government and GTA offices in the hills.
Darjeeling Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Chaturvedi justifed the police action, saying: “We had information that the GJM was gathering arms, and accordingly the raid [in Mr. Gurung’s house] was conducted. We recovered bows, arrows, three or four firearms and a large amount of cash. We are exploring all legal options. [We] don’t think any peace-minded person will store such arms,” he said, adding that two persons have been detained.
On Wednesday, schools, colleges and markets remained open in the hills but the sight of a few burnt cars in the narrow lanes of Darjeeling town bore witness to the violence that the hills had seen on June 8 over the demand for Gorkhaland.
While the youth wing of the GJM dared the police and the administration to stop its public rally called for Thursday, Mr. Gurung asked the tourists to leave the hills.
The current bout of trouble began when the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee, on May 16, said that Bengali would be made complusary for all students across the State.