Darjeeling protests: Rajnath Singh appeals for peace


West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday accused the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of conspiring with insurgent groups in the North East to incite violence in Darjeeling. Refuting allegations of Mamata Banerjee that GJM has links with rebel groups of Northeast, Gurung asked his supporters to assemble at Chawk Bazar area in Darjeeling town on Sunday morning.

Later in the day at a programme to honour journalists, Banerjee reiterated the unrest is a "deep-rooted conspiracy" and that "some people in the hills are trying to break up Bengal". It is not a political fight but a fight for our own identity. Looking at the angry GJM supporters who went on rampage torching a railway station, a police outpost and vehicles after a police raid on party chief Bimal Gurung's house in Darjeeling shows that they aren't listening to the court, even after it had passed an order citing the bandh was illegal.

Almost 50 people, mostly police, have been injured in riots and arson attacks that have rattled the picturesque hill station for more than a week and caused thousands of mostly Indian tourists to pack their bags and flee. "I call upon every Gorkha family to come out against the state administration that has unleashed this repression", Gurung said from an undisclosed location.

The immediate trigger for the June 17 protests, however, were alleged "police atrocities" on GJM workers, some of them women, arrested over the past few days. The main conflagration points were Singmari, Ghoom, Lebong and Chowkbazar, each of these places seeing up to 2,000 GJM supporters hitting the streets, setting vehicles on fire and targeting security forces and government establishments and vehicles.

Rajnath Singh said all concerned parties should resolve their differences through dialogue in an amicable environment. They were protesting against the state government and demanding separate Gorkhaland.

"She (Banerjee) has apprised me of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling", he said.

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As violence continued unabated in Darjeeling and Kashmir, Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday night reviewed the security situation in the hill district of West Bengal.

Eight policemen were also injured in the violent clashes between the security forces and the pro-Gorkhaland supporters. "It was the Morcha and not police that opened fire", Sharma said. "If people stop visiting the hills, how will you run your families?" she said adding that the state government will continue with its development work in the hills.

Mumbai: BJP president Amit Shah today took potshots at West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over her remark that there was a conspiracy behind the stir for Gorkhaland, saying she sees "conspiracy in everything".

"I would not able to comment "yes" (it should be created), "no" (should not be), because I do not know what the ground situation is".

Meanwhile, Singmari area in Darjeeling turned into a battleground on Saturday as GJM activists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who in retaliation fired teargas shells and resorted to baton charge.