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Janata Curfew in Darjeeling, GJM Seeks PM's Intervention Court asks GJM why it should not pay for shutdown

Wednesday, 14 August 20130 comments

Darjeeling August 14: Hearing a public interest litigation seeking prevention of shutdowns, a division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi in the Kolkata high court Wednesday asked the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to file an affidavit explaining its position.

The court order comes in the wake of the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling hills, demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland. The shutdown was called soon after the decision favouring a separate state of Telangana was announced. The court also said the "public curfew" clamped by the Morcha was a "kind of illegal bandh (shutdown), and no one can give such a call". Following a 72-hour ultimatum by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to withdraw the shutdown, the GJM in retaliation clamped a two-day public curfew from Tuesday. The court also asked the GJM to reply in its affidavit as to why it should not be made to compensate for the damage caused to public property during the shutdown.

The state government, which submitted a status report on the shutdown, was directed by the court to make an estimate of destruction and damage to public property on account of the call by the Morcha. Reacting to the court order, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said his party would "examine all avenues in accordance with law". "We will respond appropriately after we have been served an authentic copy of the order of the Hon'ble High Court, whose orders we are naturally bound to respect and honour," he said in a Facebook post.

The bench has also directed the state government to assess damage to public and private property and submit a report to the court. The GJM general secretary also demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the central government should intervene. “The central government and the Prime Minister should intervene. It is not a law and order problem. It is a political problem. The people in the hills want Gorkhaland. If the people can get Telengana, why don't we get Gorkhaland?"

Describing the agitation as a 'people's movement', he said that two-day 'Janata curfew', "was a democratic protest against the state government's suppression of the movement with heavy deployment of security forces."

The matter will come up for hearing Sep 5, by when the GJM will have to submit its affidavit. Life remained paralyzed in the Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisional towns with no transport on the roads as more arrests were made. Darjeeling municipality councillor Subhomoy Chatterjee was among those arrested with the total number of arrests crossing 300, the SP's office here said.
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