"It seems that there is a clash of ego between the state government and GJM. there should be meetings and discussions in the hills to sort out the situation".
The demand by the GJM for a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal is fast turning into a major political crisis for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and is likely to cripple the critical tourist industry during the peak summer season.
Reports reaching here said suspected Gorkha activists torched two panchayat offices in Mirik, power station at Lodhama, forest office at Tarkhola in Kalimpong, and two other places since overnight to enforce total strike, called immediately after police raid at Gurung'soffice at Patlebas near Darjeeling town yesterday morning.
GJM, which is spearheading the separate statehood campaign now, currently controls the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Police have arrested six GJM supporters for involvement in arson. However, they were stopped mid way by police and central forces. The state has sought eight more companies of central paramilitary forces even as the chief minister sent seven additional IPS officers to the hills to control the situation. One can not do politics with guns, shells and molotov cocktails. "We will curb their violent agitation", she later said at a police event in Kolkata.
Party general secretary Roshan Giri is camping in Delhi, pushing for direct intervention by the Centre on the issue.
The army, which was called in last week, remained on standby, a spokesperson for the Eastern Command said, but denied reports that the state had asked for further reinforcements.
"We are protesting peacefully, in a democratic manner, but the state government is using its machinery to commit atrocities in an effort to crush our movement. We strongly condemn the raid on our party president's house", he added.
During the meeting, the home minister was briefed on the law and order situation in Darjeeling, official sources said. "Whatever the police found in our offices were planted by police themselves", he said. Khukri is part of our tradition. Bows and arrows are traditional weapons. Later in the evening, they were ferried to Siliguri in trucks meant to carry construction materials.
"Bengali and Nepali, the languages spoken in Darjeeling, are in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution and hence, equal respect should be given to both", Giri said.