The usually tranquil hills of Darjeeling are burning. There have been many reports of violence for several weeks, as the protest for a separate state of Gorkhaland escalates day by day. I spent one week in Darjeeling to document the movement, which was revived when the state government notified that it would be mandatory to reach the Bengali language in schools up till standard 10.
On 8 June, the Government of West Bengal held their cabinet meeting in Darjeeling in almost 45 years, at the Raj Bhavan. Petrol bombs went off, public buses burnt just few metres away from the Raj Bhavan when Mamata Banerjee was announcing developmental projects for the hill-town inside. More than 10 police vehicles were set on fire by supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). GJM chief Bimal Gurung said, "Mamata Banerjee does what she wants, I will too. If she is the Chief Minister of Bengal, I am also the Chief Minister of Darjeeling."
On 12 June, the GJM called for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling, even as the government ruled out a compromise with separatists using "bombs and stones". The situation has remained volatile since then, with several people losing their lives and buildings being set ablaze. Here is what I found on the ground.