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Top GJM leaders arrested, Darjeeling bandh declared illegal

Two top GJM leaders were arrested on Saturday on the eighth day of the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills taking the total number of those booked to 150.

PTI|
Last Updated: Aug 10, 2013, 09.36 PM IST
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Two top GJM leaders were arrested on Saturday on the eighth day of the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills taking the total number of those booked to 150.
Two top GJM leaders were arrested on Saturday on the eighth day of the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills taking the total number of those booked to 150.
DARJEELING/KOLKATA: Two top GJM leaders were arrested on Saturday on the eighth day of the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills taking the total number of those booked to 150.

Police said Mahendra Pradhan, a council member of the Gorkha Territorial Administration and Narayan Pradhan, president of the GJM Darjeeling Town Committee, were arrested in connection with old cases.

Mahendra Pradhan was picked up from his home at Sonada, near Darjeeling during the day in a drive by the police headed by the SP Kunal Agarwal, while Narayan Pradhan was taken into custody in the early hours from the town. Mahendra Pradhan is the third GTA member to be arrested by. The two others were Atin Thapa and Praksh Gurung.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, during the day, declared the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling to demand Gorkhaland as illegal and gave a 72-hour deadline for its withdrawal. A defiant GJM has said it will call a 'janata curfew' and its members held protest gatherings at varous places in the hills and shouted anti-government slogans.

Darjeeling bandh declared illegal

Armed with a Calcutta high court order, Mamata Banerjee on Saturday declared as illegal the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling for Gorkhaland and gave a 72-hour deadline for its withdrawal, an ultimatum rejected outright by GJM which threatened to enforce a 'janata curfew'.

"I have some constitutional obligations. There is a high court order and also a Supreme Court order on bandhs," the chief minister told a press conference in Kolkata.

The chief minister said that in the light of the recent Calcutta high court order which has asked the state to ensure normalcy in the hills, she was declaring the bandh, which entered the eighth day, as illegal and unconstitutional.

"Enough is enough. I have tolerated for eight days. I am very rough and tough. I am giving 72 hours to withdraw the bandh. Do not force me to take strong action," Banerjee said.

Ruling out division of Bengal, she said, "Darjeeling is part and parcel of West Bengal. Darjeeling is my heart. There can be no division of the state based on race."

Apparently targeting GJM chief Bimal Gurung, she said, "I have to act as per government obligations. However big a leader with a long tail which he has tied elsewhere, his tail will be cut."

Asked whether her government would hold talks with the GJM, she said, "There is no difficulty in holding talks if they withdraw the bandh. They can approach the chief secretary and the home secretary."

The GJM chief took a defiant stand and said that the chief minister has to withdraw her statement or else a janata curfew (supporters policing the streets) would be called.
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