Friday, August 08, 2008

GJM cries foul at Police intrusion during signature campaign


GANGTOK, August 07: The alleged remarks on “Gorkhaland” movement made by a Sub Inspector with the Sikkim Police today led to the closure of the National Highway 31-A for more than four hours.
Vehicle movement was stopped this evening by angry Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) along the NH 31A, thereby cutting off Sikkim from the rest of the country.
GJM Kalimpong president Kalyan Dewan led his party workers to set up pickets at Rangpo and Melli, the two entry points to Sikkim and vehicles were barred from entering or leaving the State.
The highway disruption by GJM was triggered by an alleged derogatory statement by a Sub Inspector of the Sikkim Police while shutting down a signature campaign by GJM members here at the Titanic Park this morning. The signature campaign for a separate state of Gorkhaland, where people signed in a banner received massive response from the people of Sikkim.
According to our Rangpo Correspondent, vehicles started to line up along both sides of the border of Sikkim and Darjeeling district of West Bengal soon after 3 pm in the afternoon after the GJM decided to call the impromptu bandh.
Trouble started when the Sub Inspector kicked the banner in full public view and hauled the campaigners to the police station for questioning along with the banner.
The pamphlets that the GJM workers were distributing in the Capital also did not contain any printline, a pre-requisite to distribute pamphlets in Sikkim, the Police said.
The signature campaign was allowed to be conducted again by the Police after the campaigners told the Police that they had a verbal permission from the concerned police authorities and meant no threat to the law and order in the State.
Senior Sikkim Police officials said that the incident occurred due to ‘misinformation’ and apologized to the campaigners over a derogatory statement made by the Police official to the campaigners.
While hauling up the signature campaign, the concerned Sub Inspector allegedly passed a derogatory comment on Gorkhaland demand before the campaigners which was immediately flashed to GJM central leadership.
This triggered the spontaneous bandh in NH 31 A, which lasted for more than four hours.
Our Rangpo Correspondent adds that the bandh was called off around 5 pm after senior Sikkim police officials intervened and clarified that the whole issue was a result of misinformation and apologized for the incident.
But, later in the evening at around 6 pm, the Kalimpong GJM workers began their picketing along the NH 31 A, once again disrupting normal traffic movement.
Kalyan Dewan, Kalimpong GJM president told the media that the GJM will continue the picketing along NH 31 A until Sikkim Police gave a written apology to GJM and Darjeeling people for the incident. “They have hurt the sentiments of Darjeeling people and other Indian Nepalese living in the country", he said
Apart from those seriously ill, no other vehicles will be allowed to travel along NH 31 A from or enter Sikkim, the GJM leader said.
NH 31 A is the only connectivity link of Sikkim and a major part of it runs along the GJM dominated areas of Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
Recently, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre, West Bengal and Sikkim governments to keep the NH 31 A open from bandhs.
The GJM finally opened the Highway for Sikkim-bound vehicles at around 7:30 pm this evening, our Rangpo Correspondent adds.