Clashes in Darjeeling intensify, one civilian killed

RSTV Bureau
Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists protest during a bandh called by the outfit in Darjeeling on Saturday. PTI Photo

Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists protest during a bandh called by the outfit in Darjeeling on Saturday. PTI Photo

Darjeeling witnessed fresh clashes as Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) protesters pelted stones and threw bottles at security personnel. The police retaliated by firing teargas shells and used batons to disperse the crowds. One civilian is said to have been killed in the violence.

An Assistant Commander of the Indian Reserve Battalion, who was earlier reported as killed, was seriously injured, clarified West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee. On the contrary, GJM claimed that two of its supporters died in the clashes.

In her press conference in Kolkata, Banerjee also accused of the party to have connections with the insurgents.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has connection with insurgent groups in the North-East,” said the CM.

As the indefinite shutdown to demand a separate state of Gorkhaland entered its third day, police said that prohibitory orders were in force in the entire area and no one was allowed to take out processions.

But GJM supporters violated the orders and took out a procession. When they were stopped, they hurled stones and bottles.

ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma clarified that the police did not open fire.

“It was the GJM activists who opened fire,” ADG Anuj Sharma said.

Shops, hotels and other business establishments, barring pharmacies, remained closed for the third straight day as tension continued in the region.

The police are on high alert after Friday’s violence and arson. Security forces are conducting route marches in various parts of the hills.

The indefinite bandh was called after the police on Thursday raided the premises of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.

The GJM had earlier called a shutdown of the offices of state government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, which its controls.

On Friday, police “picked up” a GJM MLA’s son and raided the residence of another leader after some party supporters attempted to torch a PWD office in Bijanbari area in Darjeeling.

Police detained Vikram Rai, the in-charge of the GJM’s media cell and son of GJM MLA Amar Rai and raided Binay Tamang’s house on Friday night.

On Friday, the Centre decided to put on hold on dispatching additional paramilitary forces to the Bengal hills as the state hadn’t sent the Centre a report on the situation on the ground.

Tension began when the state government announced its intention to make Bengali compulsory in schools.

(With inputs from PTI)