Gorkha leader Madan Tamang was stabbed to death by a mob on Friday morning, when he was about to start a public meeting.
The attackers lunged towards 63-year-old Tamang with kukris (a kind of stiletto), the traditional weapon of the Gorkhas. “It’s a terrible incident. I condemn the murder,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
A first information report was lodged by Tamang’s party at the Sadar Police station in the evening.
Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh said: “Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists were behind the incident. There is tension in the hills.”
GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri denied that. “Our organisation has nothing to do the incident. We are true propagators of Mahatma Gandhi’s brand of agitation,” Giri said.
Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai in New Delhi described the killing as “very unfortunate”. “There is a need for people to be calm and work
for the peaceful resolution of the Gorkhaland issue,” Pillai said.
The murder came days ahead of the second trilateral talks between the Centre, West Bengal government and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
“We do not know if the meeting will be held at this stage or not … It depends on the situation in Darjeeling,” a senior government official said.
Tamang, who was president of the All-India Gorkha League, was having frequent brushes with the GJM. In April he demanded a CBI probe into the alleged disproportionate assets of GJM leaders including its president, Bimal Gurung.
Before 2007, Tamang had made a pitch for removing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Administrator Subash Ghising, and elections to the body.
He said he would not accept any arrangement worked out by the state government.
As news of his death spread, shops were closed in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong (about 600 km north of Kolkata) and vehicles became thin on the roads.
“Tamang had been brought dead to the hospital. He had deep injuries on his head and the left side of the neck, caused apparently from sharp weapons,” said R. Ghosh, district medical officer at the Darjeeling Sadar Hospital at 2:10 pm.