KOLKATA: In more trouble for Gorkhaland agitators, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) party chief Bimal Gurung, who is currently in hiding, was summoned by West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) on Monday for allowing children to participate in political rallies in Darjeeling.
A police vehicle was set on fire at 6th mile in Darjeeling on Monday whereas four persons were arrested in Kurseong for setting police vehicles on fire.
The hill party was sent a show-cause notice by the state child rights commission on June 29 after children bound in shackles and wielding khukuris (Nepalese dagger) marched in a symbolic protest rally organised by GJM in Darjeeling on June 28. “The WBCPCR has taken suo motu cognizance of the matter where children in shackles were exposed to violent activities and were used in a political procession by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling on 28.6.2017,” the notice read.
Despite the notice, the GJM again used children wearing ethnic dresses at the forefront of a political rally at Chowk Bazaar area in Darjeeling on Monday. GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, who was also present in the rally, justified the participation of children saying: “Kids also want Gorkhaland hence we have brought them out in the streets. Centre should take concrete steps on Gorkhaland statehood.” However, WBCPCR said, “Calcutta High Court had ordered in 2011 that children can’t be used in political rallies.
According to Juvenile Justice Act, children can’t be exposed to any situation where they are in physical danger and given the situation in Darjeeling, using the children at the forefront is a complete violation of JJ Act,” WBCPCR chairperson Ananya Chatterjee-Chakraborty told the New Indian Express.
“After the rally on Monday, Bimal Gurung has been summoned at our commission office at 11 am on July 11 to respond to the use of children in political rallies. If he does not respond to our summon, an arrest warrant will be issued against him.” she added. Non-bailable charges have already been pressed against the GJM chief by the police for deaths of three GJM activists in firing on June 17.
Centre has summoned another report from the state government on the situation in Darjeeling after the state government asked for four additional companies of central paramilitary forces in the hills.
After removal of Army, eight companies of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and two companies of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) stationed in the Darjeeling hills are looking after law and order in the Darjeeling hills, beside the state police forces. Sources revealed that the state has asked to replace the SSB companies with CRPF companies besides requisitioning for four more CRPF companies. To this, the Centre has stated that the state government can put requisition for central forces but cannot demand the force of their choice. On the other hand, ban on Internet has been extended by seven more days on Monday.
Internet has been shut down in the hills since June 20.
Also, vacation in boarding schools has been extended in view of the indefinite shutdown in the hills. Some 53 boarding schools with over 3,000 students were slated to reopen after a brief vacation on Tuesday.