The Army staged a flag march in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong today even as the situation in the violence-hit Darjeeling town improved. The Army was requisitioned by the West Bengal government for the hill towns of Kurseong and Kalimpong as a precautionary measure, apart from Darjeeling town which saw large-scale violence and vandalism yesterday. “A total of six columns have been deployed — three in Darjeeling town, two in Kalimpong and one in Kurseong in Darjeeling district,” a defence spokesperson said. Apart from the Army, three columns of CRPF have also been deployed in these places.
“The Army, CRPF and the civil administration are coordinating with each other and the situation is under control of the civil administration,” the spokesperson said. The Army was called in last night in the restive Darjeeling town after GJM supporters clashed with police, damaged police vehicles and set some of them ablaze as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a cabinet meeting here.
Police earlier fired tear gas shells and lathicharged GJM supporters who tried to march to the venue of the cabinet meeting to protest “imposition” of Bengali language in schools in the hills. The hill town, which is at present full of tourists, had remained peaceful for several months as the GJM-spearheaded agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland had taken a backseat.
Fresh violence erupted yesterday with the Bimal Gurung-led party calling a protest march towards the Raj Bhavan, where the cabinet meeting was taking place. The GJM supporters tried to break the barricades put up by the police and hurled bricks at them, injuring some security personnel. They also damaged a number of police vehicles and set some of them on fire.