KOLKATA: Darjeeling remained relatively calm on the 8th day of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-called indefinite strike on Monday as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee left for The Hague in Netherlands to address the United Nations on ‘Public Service Day’ on June 22. She would be the first chief minister of any Indian state to deliver the address.
“Violent protests won’t be tolerated. My ministers are monitoring the situation,” Banerjee said at Kolkata airport before leaving for The Hague.
While effigies of Mamata Banerjee were burnt in several areas of Darjeeling, no violence was reported from any part of the hills on Monday. Bodies of two youths who died in police firing on Saturday were cremated on Monday while the third body was cremated on Sunday night. Protesters rallied at restive Chawk Bazar with the three bodies on Sunday afternoon.
A public library, two panchayat offices and a police vehicle were set ablaze in Kalimpong district on Sunday. Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai expressed displeasure over Centre not coming forward for talks on Gorkhaland statehood. “We are disappointed with the Centre. Three of our men have died. The Centre must come forward and initiate talks. We are an ally of BJP and have given them two MPs from the region,” he said at a press conference late on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Sikkim Pradesh Trinamool Congress general secretary Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha quit from his post on Monday protesting against the firing that claimed the lives of three Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters in Darjeeling on Saturday. His resignation came less than 24 hours after Kalimpong district TMC president and former MLA Goulen Lepcha resigned from his post in protest against the firing.
“I followed my heart, extended my support to the people of Darjeeling and the Gorkhaland movement and protested against the killing of three people in police firing. As the general secretary of TMC in Sikkim, I fulfilled my duties since 2013. But, I think it is the correct time to quit the party,” Wangchuk Lepcha told New Indian Express.
Urging the Gorkhaland agitators to follow non-violent means for the movement, he requested the protesters not to prevent vehicles to ply through Sikkim’s lifeline National Highway 10. “A lot of tourists are also stranded in Sikkim. I urge the protesters to keep the highway open,” he added. Lepcha said he would continue working as the coordinator of NGO Nationalist Sikkim United Organisation (NSUO).