Darjeeling unrest: Will march with bodies of protesters killed, says GJM

Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung today vowed to continue the movement for separate Gorkhaland state and warned of "trouble" if the police try to stop the protesters. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the unrest as a "deep-rooted conspiracy".

The protestors are also asking for a separate Gorkhaland, a long pending demand of the people of the hills.

Kiran Tamang, Assistant Commander of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), was critically injured in the clash and was taken to a nursing home for treatment. "We had to resort to lathi charge", a senior police official said.

Rajnath Singh said resorting to violence would never help them find a solution and asked the people in the hills to remain calm and peaceful. "They [the GJM] have connections with insurgent groups of the North East". "I don't know where they are getting the support from", Mamata said at a press conference here. "All parties concerned and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in an amicable environment", the home minister said.

Meanwhile, GJM leaders claimed that Vikram Rai, son of GJM MLA Amar Rai, was "picked up" by the police from Darjeeling.

The officials claimed that almost 36 of the security personnel were injured while trying to contain the violence, and denied that they opened fire at the protesters.

Scenes across Darjeeling and nearby Ghoom resembled a battlefield with charred buses, police vehicles and bricks strewn on the road. Police rejected the allegations of firing by its personnel, and said one person was killed during the clashes. A raid at Binay Tamang's house was conducted last night.

The police fired teargas shells and baton-charged the agitators.

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"Morcha supporters are exploiting the locational advantage and attacking the police. Out of those 20 police personnel, five received gunshot injuries and two were injured by sharp weapon", Siddharth Gupta, Additional District General, Operations, told ANI.

He said violence can not help in reaching any solution.

The Army has also been called in.

The government has signalled it won't bow down before the GJM but is facing an unprecedented crisis just weeks after the Trinamool Congress made history by registering its first victory in a hill municipality when it won Mirik. But, shortly after the announcement, GJM president Gurung stepped up the ante, asking every Gorkha family to come out against the state administration. Gurung died on his way to Siliguri while the two other died on the spot.

Gorkhas across the country began uploading blank black photos as their profile picture on Facebook as a mark of protest soon after. "This is absolutely wrong", West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, as reported by Hindustan Times.

The ongoing agitation has crippled tourism in the hills.

The famed toy-train service of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has been suspended in view of the strike.

  • Ismael Montgomery