2 killed in Dooars; situation tense

KOLKATA: Two persons were killed and more than 20 injured in violence that threatened to take an ethnic turn in parts of the Dooars in north Bengal on Saturday when supporters of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) clashed with those of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP) over a bandh called in the region by the GJM.
The police burst teargas shells at three places and used batons. “The situation is tense. Additional police forces have been deployed in the affected areas and we have sought the deployment of Central paramilitary forces,” District Magistrate, Jalpaiguri, Vandana Yadav, told The Hindu over telephone.
Bandh total The GJM leadership’s call for a bandh in the Dooars and the Darjeeling hills was in protest against alleged atrocities on tribals in the Lalgarh area of the State’s Paschim Medinipur district. The bandh was total in the hills.
It was opposed in the plains of north Bengal by the ABAVP that claimed that the bandh had been called to woo support among the local tribals for the GJM’s demand for a separate State that includes the Dooars and the Terai region. The ABAVP has been opposing the GJM’s Statehood demand.
Shops were set ablaze and supporters of both the sides were injured in the violence that spread to different parts of Jalpaiguri district as well as the outskirts of Siliguri. An office of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was set ablaze at Chamurchi, the police said.
At many places the troublemakers were armed with swords. There was also tension in the Gorubathan where the “fast unto death” by 22 GJM activists entered its tenth day.
No permission Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has ruled out permission to any political grouping to hold public meetings in the region till normality is restored. Such rallies would only exacerbate ethnic tensions there, the State government fears.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri alleged that several houses of GJM supporters were set on fire by activists of the ABAVP.
The CPI(M)’s district leadership accused the GJM of resorting to violence and conspiring to create an “Assam-like situation” by inciting ethnic passions through its divisive designs.