Kolkata: A powerful IED explosion rocked Darjeeling super market, leaving it damaged late on Friday night. Although no one was injured, nearly 20 shops located in the market complex were affected. Early on Saturday, a GJM office at Lebong was set on fire while a forest office-cum-bungalow was torched at Badamtam.
The incidents have marked the return of violence in the Hills during the indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), in demand of Gorkhaland. Accusing the GJM president Bimal Gurung and two other party leaders: Prakash Gurung and Praveen Subba of carrying out the IED blast, the district police booked them in a case under three sections: 16 (terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy) and 18A (organising terrorist camps) of the Unlwaful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Besides sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 121 (waging war against the state) and 121A (conspiracy to commit waging war against the state) of the Indian Penal Code have also been added in the case. The Mamata Banerjee government is expected to entrust the criminal investigation department (CID) for the blast probe. The explosion took place at around 12.05 am, said Darjeeling superintendent of police Akhilesh Chaturvedi. The state police personnel rushed to the spot as the defeaning sound of the explosion shook the neighbourhood. The impact of the blast was so deep that it created craters on the road while its effect was felt upto 40 ft.
Mr Chaturvedi said, “Preliminary investigation revealed that IED was used in the blast. There was an input that a large number of gelatin sticks were stolen from a hydel power plant in the area recently. We are now investigating whether the same explosives were used in the blast or not.”
On Saturday, CID special superintendent (North) Ajoy Prasad inspected the market building. A bomb disposal squad team of the CID also inspected the spot. Rejecting the allegations against him, the GJM chief condemned the blast. In a statement, he said, “The blast, we believe was the handiwork of those who do not want Gorkhaland state to be formed.”
This was a planned move aimed at bringing disrepute to the movement and the demand for Gorkhaland.” Mr Gurung also demanded a high-level inquiry by the NIA under the Supreme Court’s supervision. He also wrote a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh to press his demand.
State tourism minister Gautam Deb said, “It was a dangerous incident. I do not know if it would have happened amidst a crowd in the day. It is a matter of concern. A high-level investigation is underway. The nature of the explosion is severe. Many things have been recovered. It is looked into. The chief minister has already called upon them to shun the path of violence and the shutdown. She also urged them to the table for talks.”
Meanwhile, state director general of police Surajit Kar Purkayastha held a meeting with additional director general (ADG) of the CID Rajesh Kumar, ADG (law & order) Anuj Sharma and ADG (intelligence branch) Sanjay Chander at Nabanna, the state secretariat, on the blast.