WEST BENGAL

Darjeeling incident-free, security forces remain on high alert

INDIA-UNREST-POLITICS-POLICE-TOURISM Indian soldiers patrol in Darjeeling | AFP

Internet services remain suspended; Mamata appeals for peace

Security forces were on high alert and internet services remained suspended, though no incidents of violence were reported in Darjeeling hills till 9.30 am today.

"The situation is still very tense. Since morning there has been no incident of violence but we are on high alert and prepared for any eventuality," a senior police official said.

Internet services remained suspended and security forces were patrolling the streets on the fifth day of the total shutdown.

The internet services were blocked in Darjeeling since yesterday morning.

Police sources said the step was taken to stop GJM activists from using social media to spread "messages and provocative posts".

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday appealed to people in the northern West Bengal hills to maintain peace instead of "playing with fire" amid the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-called indefinite shutdown.

"I would like to appeal to everyone in the mountains to kindly maintain peace. Solution can be reached through meetings and dialogues only when peace is maintained," she said before leaving for the Netherlands to address the Public Service Day of the UN on June 22 at The Hague. 

"I don't differentiate between the hill people and others. We all work everywhere in the state. Burning down things is not the right thing to do. Instead of playing with fire, peace should be safeguarded," Banerjee said.

A public library, two panchayat offices and a police vehicle were set ablaze at Kalimpong yesterday. Kalimpong, part of Darjeeling district until recently, was made a separate district on February 14 this year.

The GJM activists had also taken out a protest march yesterday carrying the bodies of two party supporters who, they alleged, were killed in police firing on June 17.

Police pickets and barricades were placed in front of government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices and various entry-exit points of the hills.

Except medicine shops, all others shops and hotels were closed in Darjeeling.

Union Home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for the second time in two days yesterday and appealed to the protesters not to resort to violence and come forward for a dialogue to resolve any issue.

"All parties concerned and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in an amicable environment," the home minister had said.

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