Darjeeling, Aug. 5: Thirteen members of the Gorkhaland Personnel, a youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said to be regrouping here, were arrested last night for arson attacks on state government properties on August 1.
Groups of masked people had torched a state forest guest house in Takdah around 11.30pm on August 1. Around the same time, a police camp at Pokhriabong was set ablaze and a forest range office and a forest guest house in Rimbick also set on fire. A vehicle of the NHPC was also set on fire at Mungpoo.
Four persons were arrested the next morning. About the latest arrests, Darjeeling police superintendent Kunal Aggarawal said: “Soon after the incident, we arrested some people and based on their inputs we arrested 13 Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) members from near Jorebunglow last night.”
The police said the four arrested on August 2 were Morcha supporters. The 13 GLP members were produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate in Darjeeling and remanded in 14-days’ judicial custody. The four arrested earlier were also remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody earlier.
Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, said the police were trying to frame the GLP. “Without proper investigations, the police picked up the GLP personnel who were posted as security guards at the Sonada block health centre last night. The party is not involved in the arson and we are appealing to the people to maintain peace in the hills.”
The GLP, a wing formed in 2008 at the peak of the Morcha’s Gorkhaland movement, are youths from tea gardens and villages in the hills and the Dooars.
After the formation of the GTA, the GLP cadres were hardly visible in Darjeeling. However, over the past week, some GLP members have started regrouping in Jamuni, 20km from Darjeeling.
Morcha leaders said some of the personnel, who were hired as security guards, were leaving their jobs and returning to the Jamuni camp. Tamang said: “No all, but some of the personnel are coming back to the Jamuni camp. Many of them are still working as security guards in various block health centres in the hills.”
Morcha sources said around 200 GLP cadres are in the Jamuni camp. The GLP youths have not been deployed for duty anywhere in the hill town.
The Morcha had raised the GLP, who were trained by ex-servicemen. The party had said the GLP would supervise crowds at public meetings and other party events but during the agitation phase in 2008-2011, the cadres indulged in moral policing such as curbing the sale of illicit liquor in the hills. According to the Morcha, 5,000 youths have joined the GLP since 2008.
The Morcha delegation today met BJP leader Sushma Swaraj in Delhi.
“We met Sushma Swaraj and other senior BJP leaders such as Shanawaz Hussian in Delhi. The BJP has told us that the statehood issue would be discussed in the BJP’s parliamentary board meeting,” Morcha leader Roshan Giri said from Delhi over phone.
The youth brigade
|GLP youths stand at attention for Morcha chief Bimal Gurung. File picture|
The GLP and their role in the hills
Who are the GLP?
The Gorkhaland Personnel is a wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. It was formed in 2008.
How many cadres does the GLP have?
The Morcha says around 5,000 boys and girls have been recruited since 2008. At the moment, the number could be lesser as many in the GLP have returned home or joined other jobs
What is the profile of a GLP member?
Youths between 18 and 30 years are recruited after physical fitness test conducted by
ex-servicemen. Most of the GLP cadres come from the tea gardens and villages, including the Dooars region, which is not part of the GTA.
What is the percentage of girls in the GLP?
Women make up about 30 per cent of the GLP’s strength
What kind of training do the GLP get?
They are trained in martial arts, general fitness and disaster relief
Who leads them?
Ex-servicemen guide the youths in their day-to-day work. The overall supervision is done by
Lt. Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, who is the deputy chief executive of the GTA
How much does the Morcha pay the cadres?
The party pays the GLP cadres between Rs 1,500 and Rs 1,700 a month
Has the GTA employed any of the GLP cadres?
Some of them have been recruited as casual workers in the GTA offices and posted as security guards
Do the GLP cadres take part in protests and strikes?
The GLP cadres have been seen assisting Morcha activists on hunger strike. They are also deployed for crowd management at protest venues
Have GLP cadres been arrested before Sunday night?
GLP cadres were arrested in cases the government had initiated against them for occupying government buildings, where the personnel had set up camps during 2008-2010. Some were also arrested for wearing fatigues resembling the armed forces.