The indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills continued today after GJM supremo Bimal Gurung removed party convener Binay Tamang from his post and revoked his decision to suspend the shutdown till September 12. Gurung also convened an emergency meeting of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership to expel Tamang and another member, Anit Thapa, from the party. Since last night, protests in support of carrying forward the shutdown have rocked several parts of the hills. Rallies supporting the indefinite bandh were taken out in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, Sonada and Kalimpong last night. Confusion prevailed among the people of the hills over the differences within the GJM. When some traders tried to open theirs shops, GJM supporters forcibly closed them, the police said.
The party leadership claimed that a woman was killed during lathi charge by police to disperse a crowd that was protesting against the decision to suspend the shutdown. The police, however, denied the allegation. Tamang’s house, meanwhile, was ransacked by pro- Gorkhaland supporters. Posters were pasted in front of his house terming him a “traitor of Gorkhaland”. An indefinite strike has been continuing in the hills since June 15 demanding a Gorkhaland state. The strike entered the 79th day today. An infuriated Gurung came out with a statement saying, “There is no question of withdrawing or suspending the shutdown. Why would we do that? Has the government initiated talks on Gorkhaland? The answer is no.
“We appeal to the Gorkha people to strongly oppose Binay Tamang’s announcement to call off the strike. He has no right to suspend the strike. In order to ensure that the shutdown is not withdrawn, the agitation in all parts of the hills will be further intensified.” Gurung also slammed Tamang as a “traitor” who was playing into the hands of the state government. “He has been removed as party convenor and a central committee meeting has been convened to decide on whether to expel him from party,” he said.
The next round of talks between the state government and the GJM is scheduled to be held in North Bengal on September 12. The GJM has plans to take out rallies in various parts of the hills during the day, GJM sources said. The police and security forces are maintaining a strict vigil in order to avoid any untoward incident.