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Army stages flag march in Bengal hills amid shutdown

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Darjeeling: The Army staged a flag march in Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Kurseong on Friday, as shops and hotels remained closed in the northern West Bengal hills following a 12-hour shutdown called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

There were no reports of fresh violence in the hills, where the situation continued to be tense a day after thousands of angry GJM activists demanding a separate Gorkhaland state indulged in arson and pelted stones at police, injuring 15, in Darjeeling.

A Defence Ministry spokesperson said in Kolkata that six Army columns have been deployed — three in Darjeeling, two in Kalimpong and one in Kurseong. Each column comprises of 43 personnel.

Three companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have also been deployed to ensure peace.

The Army, CRPF and the civil administration are coordinating with one another and the situation is under control of the civil administration, the spokesperson said.

“Army was requisitioned at 6.15 p.m. yesterday (Thursday) in Darjeeling after a mob turned violent and injured government personnel and vandalised government property,” he said.

“Two Army columns were deployed initially in Darjeeling. Requisition for deployment of additional columns in Kalimpong and Kurseong as a precautionary measure, was received late in the night,” the spokesperson added.

Thousands of tourists are facing a trying time in getting out of various pockets of the hills, with car and jeep owners fleecing them against the backdrop of the shutdown that started from 6 a.m. on Friday.

The GJM has called the shutdown to protest “indiscriminate police action on the peaceful demonstration” by its workers.

IANS

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