KOLKATA: The indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills of West Bengal began with burning of government offices despite heavy deployment of state and central forces on Monday.
While Block Development Office at Bijanbari area near Darjeeling was partially burnt in an early morning setting on fire, Public Works Department office at Singmari area was completely gutted at noon. The PWD office was vandalised and papers torn before being set on fire.
Though fingers were pointed at Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists trying to enforce the indefinite closure of government offices, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri washed his hands off the allegations.
“If we wanted we could have enforced bandhs in all offices by deploying thousands of our activists,” he said.
“Three persons have been arrested for setting fire in the offices and the situation is under control,” said Darjeeling ADG Siddhinath Gupta.
Despite Mamata Banerjee issuing order of cutting salary for government employees for being absent from work, attendance to the offices in the Darjeeling hills were thin. Toy train services were also suspended as staffers were not able to reach the railway stations due to the strike.
On the other hand, after Darjeeling district CPM, GJM also extended support to a strike call given in the tea gardens of four districts of north Bengal for demanding raise in minimum wages of tea workers.
“The minimum wages demand of the tea garden workers is legitimate,” said Giri. The current daily wage of tea garden workers is `132. The tea gardens in the Dooars region of north Bengal observed bandh on Monday and will observe ‘wheel jam’ on Tuesday.