Darjeeling, 15 Jun:

Violence remained part of the Darjeeling situation today, and following a police raid on the GJM chief’s home and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha party office at Patleybash, the bandh which had been limited to government offices and banks thus far, was today bumped up to a full-fledged general strike. Clashes between police and GJM party workers also intensified today.

A police contingent along with the CRPF led by police top brass arrived at Patleybash, 6 km from Darjeeling town, this morning. The contingent was led by ADGs Siddhinath Gupta and Javed Shammim along with the Darjeeling SP, Akhilesh Chaturvedi.

The police entered the party office and reportedly recovered arrows, a cross-bow, firecrackers, sling shots, khukuris, axes, binocular and radio sets, improvised arms along with cash.

“We had information that Morcha leaders and supporters were gathering here, hence we had come for raids. From here we managed to recover these modified bows and arrows along with other items,” stated the SP.

This cache is being scoffed at by all as being too miniscule and obviously ineffectual for anyone planning a violent confrontation.

The raid however angered GJM supporters who responded matching aggression.

While the security forces were returning from the raid, there were incidents of stone pelting from both sides. The road through which the force was returning has hills on both the sides. Stones started raining from all sides.

A press vehicle was also torched in the melee.

The security forces fired tear gas and also resorted to lathicharge while trying to ward off the attack. The force managed to return to Singamari, on the outskirts of the town at around 2:30pm.

The GJM has meanwhile accused the state police of collaborating with TMC and unleashing violence.

“The police along with TMC supporters vandalised our house and torched two vehicles parked in our compound,” alleged Asha Gurung, GJM leader and wife of Bimal Gurung.

With news of the raid in Patleybash, the GJM clamped an indefinite general bandh in the Hills. Shops hurriedly downed shutters. School closed down.

In Kurseong, GJM supporters took out a rally. Late in the afternoon, a State Transport bus was torched at Paglajhora in between Mahanadi and Kurseong. GJM Trade Union leader Karuna Gurung was arrested from her residence in Kurseong.

The Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union affiliated to the GJM has called for an indefinite bandh of the Hill tea gardens demanding the release of Karuna Gurung.