Gorkhaland agitation rages on as bandh enters 34th day; one pro-GJM protester killed in 'police firing'

As the indefinite shutdown called by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) entered the 34th day on Tuesday, incidents of violence continued to be reported from the Darjeeling hills.

GJM on Monday claimed that one of their activists was killed and few others were injured in police firing during a clash between the Trinamool Congress cadres (TMC) and GJM supporters in Darjeeling. This was followed by more clashes of activists with the police and fresh accounts of violence in the region.

GJM leader Binay Tamang identified the deceased as Ashish Tamang, a resident of Darjeeling district's Magargunj. "Ashish was shot in the chest by the police during a clash between GJM and TMC supporters in the area," Tamang said.

The army has been deployed in Darjeeling. PTI

Army troops continue to maintain a vigil in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada. PTI

He said that the clash between activists of the two parties started late on Monday afternoon after the locals demanded that the seven Trinamool Congress members of Mirik municipality resign. Supporters of GJM and other hill parties reportedly set fire to a traffic police outpost and a flat belonging to the electricity supply board in Bijanbari.

The clash became more violent after police rushed to the spot and charged tear gas shells to disperse the mob. The large crowd attacked the police and resorted to stone pelting, IANS reported. "Police started tear gas shelling from around 8 pm near a market in Mirik. They also opened fire at our activists. That is when Ashish got shot", Tamang said.

Hundreds of locals also staged a sit-in outside the district magistrate's office in Darjeeling demanding a separate state and restoration of internet services in the hills. The suspension of internet services, which was imposed on 18 June, have been extended till 25 July by the local administration.

"The pro-Gorkhaland rallies are being held in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and various other places in the hills. We condemn these authoritarian steps (like blocking the internet) by the Bengal government," said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, IANS reported. Giri also condemned the "extremely rude behaviour" of TMC legislator Paresh Pal, who lashed out at GJM MLAs during the presidential polls in the state assembly.

An all-party meeting is scheduled to be held in Kalimpong on Tuesday to decide on the next course of action. The meeting will be attended by all the parties of the hills, PTI reported.

Army troops continued to maintain a strict vigil on Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada. Paramilitary and police personnel also patrolled the streets in the hills. Eleven companies of the CRPF have already been stationed in these districts.

On 16 July, as per court orders, two companies of the CRPF reached the hills on Sunday, while two more were to arrive on Monday. The Calcutta High Court on 14 July had asked the Centre to provide four additional companies of CRPF within 48 hours in Darjeeling to maintain law and order.

Except pharmacies, all shops, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges in the region continue to remain closed.

With food supply severely hit due to the ongoing strike, GJM activists and NGOs of the hills were seen distributing food items among people.

GJM supremo Bimal Gurung warned on 15 July that the agitation would turn 'terrible' in the coming days.

"The agitation which has been going on for over a month now will turn terrible and it will be a decisive battle for our independence," Gurung said. "If I need to shed my blood, I am ready to do that, but the fight will go on till Gorkhaland is achieved," he said.

"We will continue our protest till we get Gorkhaland. We are not afraid of the West Bengal government and its police. Every youth in the hills is ready to give their blood for the sake of Gorkhaland," Prakash Gurung, GJM Yuva Morcha president, said.

Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 13:04 PM

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