19 June, 2017
Darjeeling: A paramilitary jawan and a GJM (Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha) supporter were reportedly killed on Saturday in Darjeeling's Singmari area during fresh violent clashes between the security forces and the pro-Gorkhaland supporters. These were the first deaths since violence started afresh after years in Darjeeling.
Coming down heavily on the GJM violence, Banerjee said: "We have come to know from the police that there is a link (of GJM) with terrorists".
Shouts of "Police go back" and "Gorkhaland-Gorkhaland" reverberated through the picturesque hills as some Gorkha activists claimed that the protest has shifted from the political to the commoners' movement in the hills.
Earlier, the local police also conducted raids on the homes and offices of several members of the GJM.
"Three of our comrades were killed and five were critically injured in police firing yesterday", GJM's general secretary Roshan Giri told AFP. There was no police firing. They are martyrs of the Gorkhaland movement.
"The final battle is on".
"We are fighting for our right and freedom". Gurung's claim was dismissed by ADG Sharma. "They had opened fire".
Morcha leader Binoy Tamang has said the party is eager to hold talks with only the Centre.
The Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal has devised a two- pronged strategy to quell the ongoing crisis in Darjeeling hills and to isolate the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the agitation. "I call upon every Gorkha family to come out against the state administration that has unleashed this repression", Gurung said from an undisclosed location.
Singh asked the CM to take all possible steps to restore peace in the hill station. What is happening is a deep-rooted conspiracy.
"There is a terrorist brain behind this hooliganism and vandalism". They (GJM) have connections with underground insurgent groups of the northeast.
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He said one officer who intervened in an arson attack was "seriously wounded after protesters slashed his throat".
A key difference does exist - in Kashmir, the protesters are demanding separation from India while the Darjeeling agitators want a state within the country - but both campaigns have been marked by violence driven by stone-throwing and the hurling of other missiles.
At least four places within 10 km of Darjeeling town turned into war zones right from Saturday morning as GJM supporters, armed with stones, bottles and khukris, engaged security forces in several rounds of pitched battle.
"We will explain to people how their lives have changed for better following the formation of these development boards, which took up lots of welfare activities", he said.
Mr Sharma said the dead man appeared to have been shot but the circumstances were still unclear.
She repeatedly urged the people of the hills not to pay heed to Gurung and withdraw the indefinite bandh.
"From where are they (GJM) are getting their support? The police will be tough." he said.
Meanhwile, shops, hotels and other business establishments, barring pharmacies are closed on the 16th day of the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills.
Though the government clarified that Bengali will be an optional subject, the GJM refused to back down and instead revived the nearly 100-year-old demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
Vikram is the in-charge of the GJM's media cell. "We had to resort to lathi charge", a senior police official said.