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GLP take over police duties

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 16, 2009

Gorkhaland Personnel patrol a road in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

Gorkhaland Personnel patrol a road in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

Darjeeling, July 15: The khaki is sharing space with the green, gold and black uniform of the Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) in the hills as the indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha entered its third day today.

The youths who joined the GLP now receive a monthly remuneration of about Rs 1,500 from the Morcha. They are patrolling the streets and taking part in “social activities” like banning the use of plastic and gutka sachets — activities one would normally associate with the state government or civic bodies, if not just the police.

The police have a presence and are patrolling the hills on foot following the Morcha’s announcement that no vehicles would be allowed to ply during the strike. But the police are far outnumbered by the GLP boys and girls out in the streets.

“We have deployed 4,500 GLP during the strike and another 5,000 are on a standby. There are 180 GLP youths patrolling the NH31A,” said Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha.

The GLP have been trained in various aspects like crowd management, traffic control, disaster management and also in martial arts but not in fire arms. “The GLP are like the RSS. We are not challenging the police but only using the GLP to control our own rallies and ensure that our supporters do not create law and order problems,” said Tamang.

However, at present, the GLP are being seen as a quasi-police force by the local people in the hills. “I was hauled up while I was smoking at Chowrastha and I had to stub out the cigarette,” said a resident. Employees of no administrative wing have ever patrolled the streets to ensure that the ban on smoking in public places is enforced.

On Monday evening, when the Morcha launched its indefinite strike, the GLP patrolled the streets and asked people who were found reeking of alcohol to go back home early. “I thought that was the job of the police,” said a person who had been pulled out by the GLP.

In the past one month, the GLP has also played a significant role in banning gutka sachets by moving across town asking shops to stop selling the chewing tobacco. At the moment, one hardly finds any shop selling gutkas.

K.L. Tamta, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, said the police were not going in for any confrontation at the moment. “If the people are willing to listen to the diktat of the Morcha what can we do? If they (GLP) come to Siliguri and do something which the people do not want, we will not tolerate such attempts,” said Tamta.

The third day of the strike passed off peacefully with hundreds of people taking out rallies in Darjeeling. The Morcha supporters are also continuously demonstrating in front of the police stations across the hills.

Source: The Telegraph


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