Bengal govt seeks army help again as Darjeeling hills turn restive after death of GNLF supporter
West Bengal government seek army help to quell fresh violence in Darjeeling asindia Updated: Jul 08, 2017 14:10 IST
The West Bengal government on Saturday sought army deployment as the Darjeeling hills turned restive again following the death of a Gorkhaland supporter, allegedly in police firing.
The incident sparked fresh violence in Darjeeling as angry protesters set traffic police booth on fire. Protesters also pelted stones at policemen near the Sonada railway station on Saturday. Unconfirmed reports suggested the agitators set ablaze to Sonada station and police station too.
Police fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters, officials said.
Army was withdrawn from the hills last week, nearly a month after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) re-launched its statehood movement that turned violent, leaving several people dead.
“We have sought deployment of the army again,” Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta told HT on Saturday.
Leaders of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) alleged that Tashi Bhutia, 31, was killed in police firing in Sonada, nearly 20 km from Darjeeling, when he had gone to buy medicines.
Though state tourism minister and district Trinamool leader Gautam Deb denied it, a police officer said on the condition of anonymity that forces “opened fire after their patrolling vehicle was attacked”.
The police chief of Darjeeling district did not respond to telephone calls.
“All deaths are sad incidents. But the police is showing utmost restraint in the hills,” Deb told the media.
Bijay Tamang, assistant general secretary of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said the state government had launched a reign of terror in the hills.
On June 17, three persons were allegedly killed in police firing in Singamari , about 2 km from Darjeeling town.
Earlier this week, the newly formed 30-member Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee decided to continue the indefinite bandh in the hills that entered 24th day on Saturday.
The government has banned Internet services in the hills since June 19.
Darjeeling hills have been witnessing arson and vandalism on government properties particularly after June 15 when the house and the office of GJM president Bimal Gurung were raided by police.
The agitation started off as protests against an alleged move by the Trinamool government to impose Bengali in schools in the hills where most people speak Nepali.
The GJM, which administers the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, revived the 110-year-old demand for a separate state after a police raid on the office of Gurung.
The GJM, an ally of the BJP, has refused to talk to the state government and insisted on tripartite negotiations on statehood.