Amidst continuing violence in Darjeeling, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today called up West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and discussed with her the situation prevailing there. During the telephonic conversation, the chief minister briefed the Union home minister about the steps taken by the state government to maintain law and order and restore normalcy in the hill district, official sources said. Singh asked Banerjee to take all possible steps so that peace is restored in the picturesque hill station where people are protesting against “imposition” of Bengali in schools by making the language mandatory. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is in power in the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, has started an agitation demanding a separate state — Gorkhaland. On the boil for the past 10 days over a separate state demand, Darjeeling today witnessed widespread clashes between GJM activists and the police in which one person was killed and 35 security personnel were injured, including an India Reserve Battalion (IRB) officer seriously.
In Kolkata, Chief Minister Banerjee said, “What is happening today is a deep-rooted conspiracy. So many bombs and arms cannot be gathered in a day.” “I am ready to sacrifice my life, but I will not allow Bengal to be divided,” she told reporters. She claimed the GJM has connections with insurgent groups in the Northeast and some foreign countries. She, however, did not name any insurgent group or foreign country. “There is a terrorist brain behind this hooliganism. We have got clues that they have connections with underground insurgent groups in the Northeast. There are some other countries also helping,” Banerjee said.
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Army contingents were deployed to control the situation and they staged flag marches in several areas of the violence-hit hill district, where the indefinite shutdown to press for a separate Gorkhaland entered the third day. The home ministry had yesterday put on hold sending additional paramilitary personnel to Darjeeling as no report on the ground situation had come from the West Bengal government.