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Gorkhaland crisis: Army called in Siliguri

Last updated on: June 12, 2008 15:19 IST

The army was called out to patrol streets of Siliguri and adjacent areas on Thursday following attacks on local people, tourists and police by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha activists demanding a separate state.

As tension prevailed in various areas in north Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya called an all-party meeting on June 17 to discuss the Darjeeling crisis arising out of the morcha's demand.

"I contacted the army, discussed the situation with the authorities and asked them to patrol streets as early as possible in Siliguri and the vicinity," Bhattacharya said at Writers' Buildings in Kolkata.

Saying that an unrest was growing in Siliguri and its adjoining areas, he appealed to people there and all political parties to maintain peace and amity and not to indulge in violence.

"You have to maintain peace and harmony, which is the need of the hour," Bhattacharya said.

GJM supporters attacked tourists and policemen, injuring 28 people and damaged 16 vehicles on Wednesday evening at Malbazar in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district, as two organisations observed a 48-hour bandh in this north Bengal town in Darjeeling district from Thursday.

Twelve tourists, being escorted by Forest Department personnel from a forest bungalow at Chapramari in Jalpaiguri district, were attacked by armed GJM supporters at Khunia More, Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife-II, Tapan Das said.

The GJM supporters torched one of the vehicles the tourists were travelling in and damaged the other and also attacked local people at Malbazar town and stoned the police when they intervened.

In Siliguri and Dooars, normal life was hit on Thursday during the bandh called by groups opposing the demand for creation of a separate Gorkha state.

The two-day bandh initially began on a dull note, but picked up as the day progressed with all shops and business establishments remaining shut and vehicles off the roads.

Some educational institutions cancelled their scheduled examinations and majority of the banks remained closed.

GJM press secretary Benoy Tamang alleged that the bandh at Siliguri and Dooars was purposely called to restrict movement of vehicles carrying food and essentials to Darjeeling.

Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) K L Tamta, however, told PTI that the allegation of GJM was not correct.

Vehicles were very much moving towards the hills and sufficient security forces were deployed at all vulnerable points, particularly the entry points to the hills.

There was no report of any major untoward incident either in Siliguri or Dooars, Tamta said.

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