Minister’s convoy attacked, railway station, govt offices set on fire.
Kolkata: Sporadic violence continued to rock Darjeeling with state tourism minister Goutam Deb facing massive protests from supporters of the Gorkha Janmuti Morcha (GJM). Arson continued unabated since Wednesday night. Several government establishments were torched by the agitators.
A police vehicle escorting Mr Deb was attacked on Thursday morning. The attack took place when Mr Deb was on his way to Panighata from Siliguri to observe the 203rd birth anniversary of Nepali poet Bhanubhakta Acharya.
“GJM activists, armed with khukri (Nepalese knife) assembled there and hurled stones at us. They gheraoed my car and tried to stop me,” he alleged.
“This is sheer vandalism in the name of peaceful movement and no civilised society will accept it,” Mr Deb said.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, however, refuted the allegations and said that the GJM has no role in the violence. “We are carrying out a peaceful movement. This is simply an attempt to malign us. The only solution to our problem lies in creation of separate state of Gorkhaland and the Centre should open a dialogue on it,” he said.
Since Wednesday night the tourist information bureau at Mal and the revenue inspector’s office at Sukna were set on fire. The Gayabari railway station of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and the house of chairman of Tamang Development Board at Kalimpong was also attacked.
On Thursday morning, a forest office and residence of forest guards were set on fire. Several vehicles on their way to Sikkim were also damaged at Tarkhola area.
Meanwhile, a singer and a novelist based in the Hills returned awards given to them by the Mamata Banerjee government. Writer Krishna Singh Moktan returned his Bhanu Bhakta Award received in 2004. Singer Karma Yonjan too returned his Sangeet Samman award. Both of them handed over their awards to Nepali Sahitya Sammelan Committee, which will return it to the district administration.
“As a mark of protest against the government and supporting the Gorkhaland movement, I am returning an award presented to me,” Mr Mukhtan said.
On Wednesday, the Nation Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) had decided to shut down its plant at Ramdi in Darjeeling after protests erupted outside the plant site.