Darjeeling, June 9 : Terming as ‘Illegal” the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s 12-hour shutdown in north Bengal hills, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday warned of “strict legal action” against those participating in it.
She claimed normalcy has been restored in the hills, and minced no words in slamming the GJM, the dominant party in the north Bengal hills, for Thursday’s clashes between its supporters and the police.
She hinted the violence was premeditated.
“The area is calm (now), hills are at peace, everyone is fine. On Thursday, they (GJM) wreaked havoc for an hour or two all of a sudden. They had stockpiled firearms, bombs, guns, and indulged in stone-pelting. Policemen were injured and even women were beaten up. Despite all odds, our police showed restraint,” Banerjee told the media here.
In a stern warning to the GJM, a visibly perturbed Banerjee drew a line on compromises.
“The Gorkha community also does not want any violence. We have to compromise sometimes. Our previous government (Left Front) had also compromised but the situation escalated because of their compromise… there is a limit to compromise and when compromise crosses the limits, the law takes its own course,” the Trinamool Congress supremo said.
To GJM chief Bimal Gurung’s questioning of why the Army and police stormed Bhanu Bhawan, the venue on the tourist hub Mall Road where clashes broke out, Banerjee justified the action.
“How did firearms, ammunition, bombs, and stones enter Bhanu Bhawan? How did a government workplace become a party office? He has to first answer why he started the first attack from Bhanu Bhawan? This is one-sided. There is evidence. There was bloodshed,” Banerjee aid.
“On top of everything they did, they are asking why police entered Bhanu Bhawan? Will police not secure firearms? Where will the Army and police stay to restore peace in the hills?” she said.
The GJM has called the 12-hour shutdown from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to protest what it dubbed “indiscriminate police action” against their activists.
“The state government has declared the shutdown as illegal. Whosoever takes part in the shutdown will face strict legal action,” Banerjee said as she moved around the hill town to oversee arrangements to help thousands of stranded tourists in Darjeeling.
On Thursday, thousands of angry GJM activists demanding a separate Gorkhaland indulged in arson and pelted police with stones. Thed police repeated baton charges on the Morcha supporters and lobbed tear-gas shells.
Accusing a handful of GJM leaders of destroying peace in the hills, Banerjee said law will run its course against the lawbreakers.