Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with two blasts in the Darjeeling hills, where a high alert has been sounded, the police said today. A hand grenade was hurled at the Kalimpong police station at around 11 pm yesterday, killing a civic volunteer and injuring two others.
The injured were subsequently hospitalised. An initial probe had revealed that bike-borne miscreants had hurled the grenade at the police station, the police said, adding that they were going through CCTV footage for more clues.
In another incident, a high-intensity explosion rocked the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling town in the early hours of yesterday.
A high alert had been sounded at all the police stations of Kalimpong and Darjeeling, the police said. The grenade attack on the Kalimpong police station and the blast in Darjeeling town were the first such incidents since an indefinite strike was launched by the GJM in the Darjeeling hills over two months ago.
The situation in Darjeeling remained tense as the strike, demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, entered its 67th day today. Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Anuj Sharma said Gurung and others had been booked under the UAPA in connection with the two blasts.
“We have also slapped charges under the Explosive Substances Act, the West Bengal Maintenance of Public Order Act, IPC section 302 (murder) and other sections against Gurung and others,” he added.
Meanwhile, a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) office was set on fire allegedly by Gorkhaland supporters at Kalimpong last night. “We are looking for the culprits. We are monitoring each and every entry and exit point. A forensic team will visit the police station,” a senior police officer said.
“There are a lot of similarities between the mode of operation of the Maoists and the way in which the high intensity blast was carried out. We are yet to arrive at a conclusion. The investigation is still on,” another senior police official said. The GJM leadership, however, condemned the attack on the police station.
“We condemn the grenade blast at the police station. It is the handiwork of those who do not want Gorkhaland to be formed,” a senior leader of the party said.
After yesterday’s blast at Chowkbazar, Gurung had written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, demanding an inquiry by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) into it. West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said those behind the blasts would not be spared and the law would take its own course.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh demanded that the probe be handed over to the central agencies.
State CPI(M) secretary Surya Kanta Mishra said talks should immediately be held to resolve the situation as any further delay might deepen the crisis. Senior Congress leader and MP Pradip Bhattacharya demanded that an all-party meeting be convened by the state government to discuss the situation.
GJM sources claimed that some party activists were detained by the police from a rally in Darjeeling and were released subsequently. The police, however, denied this. The police also conducted an area domination march in the hills today.