Arrests won't deter us - Bimal Gurung

Bimal Gurung with his supporter in party office darjeeling
A battle of nerves began in the hills with police rounding up five Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters last night and the party declaring that it wouldn't be cowed down by the arrests and would make the indefinite agitation successful.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung today asked tourists to leave the hills as "anything might happen".
The police arrested five Morcha activists, including a woman, from different parts of Darjeeling last night for their alleged role in Thursday's violence.

While the woman was remanded in two days' judicial custody, the other four arrested Morcha activists were sent to two days' police remand.
"They have been booked for unlawful assembly, creating mischief, assault and using criminal force on officers and obstructing them from discharging duties, and under various sections of the act on prevention of destruction of public property," said Pankaj Prasad, an assistant public prosecutor.
Realising that the arrests would help him garner more support, Morcha president Gurung didn't waste time to make it an issue. "Let them arrest, let them lathi-charge, bullets can be fired. Why just five, even 5000 can be arrested. A lot of things are happening; the situation is not getting better. In agitation, all these things happen. Police are also human beings, we are also human beings. Tomorrow, there will be a total strike in government offices," he said.
The state government has made adequate security arrangements to thwart the picketing of government offices and issued an order, saying the employees of the state government and the GTA would have to face administrative action, including a break in service, if they fail to mark their attendance during the agitation.
Gurung, on the other hand, said: "If they can shut down my office, GTA Sabha house and departments at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan, why can't we call for the closure of all government offices?"
Sources in the Morcha said the party was apprehending that the state was preparing for a massive crackdown and so, it started drawing up a strategy to counter it on different fronts.
"Emotions are running high among people. Trinamul supporters are returning to our party unable to accept Bengal's atrocities. Today, 42 families from Singtom tea garden joined us. Tomorrow, 84 Trinamul families from Krishnanagar in Tukvar will join the Morcha. Thousands are ready to take to the street if there are police excesses," said Gurung, who is also the GTA chief executive, trying to send out a warning for the state government.
S.K. Lama, the president of Trinamul's Singtom estate unit, under whose leadership the 42 families today switched allegiance to the Morcha, said: "We decided to join the Morcha as this is the question of our language and the future of our community."
In 2013, when the last phase of the Gorkhaland agitation was launched, the state government had not gone in for a direct confrontation with lathi-charge and crackdown on rallies, but had arrested nearly 800 Morcha supporters over a span 44 days.
In yet another stern message to the state, Gurung today advised tourists that they should leave Darjeeling, which meant that he was directly challenging Mamata, who had said yesterday that things had become normal in the hills.
"Things are getting worse and I think the tourists should leave (Darjeeling) so that they do not face inconvenience in coming days. Anything might happen. Since this is an issue of the language, the community's protest will take place in Assam, Meghalaya, Delhi and other parts of the country, too."
To garner support from tea gardens, the Morcha today extended support to a strike called in four districts of north Bengal by the Joint Forum, an apex body of 24 trade unions, tomorrow and the general strike on Tuesday.(TT)

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