Darjeeling protests: On Friday, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hit out at Gorkha Janmukti Morcha protesters who were pelting stones at police in Darjeeling on Thursday. The GJM activists had created a law and order situation and it had forced the government to call in reinforcements, which were deployed to control the situation. Police also resorted to lathi-charge and tear gas to control the crowd. Banerjee termed the incident in Darjeeling as “abhorrent”. “What happened in Darjeeling yesterday is so abhorrent that it cannot be described in words,” ANI reported Banerjee as saying on Friday. GJM is reportedly protesting because of “forced imposition of Bengali language” and this had taken a violent turn – there was a 12-hour strike observed in the hills, according to news reports.
Despite Banerjee warning of “stern action” against miscreants, GJM activists reportedly torched an under-construction ITI building at Mungpoo which is 33 km from Darjeeling, Indian Express reported. Army staged a flag march in Darjeeling on Friday, even as the situation in the violence-hit Darjeeling town improved. Banerjee said on Friday that the situation is now under control in Darjeeling; “it’s peaceful here”, she said. She also said that one can only stage such protests during this time if one is bereft of good ideas. The hill town has been peaceful for several months and full of tourists, and that the GJM-spearheaded agitation had taken a backseat. Bimal Gurung-led party had called a protest march towards the Raj Bhavan in Darjeeling, where the Cabinet meeting was taking place. 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, PTI reported.
Banerjee had termed the protest as “illegal”, saying the government would take legal action against those who participate in it. According to NDTV, Banerjee did hold a cabinet meeting, but did not take up the Bengali issue. She said, “Bengali has not been made compulsory… that issue is over… This is not an issue at all… those who don’t have issues…they raise such issues sometimes”.