Darjeeling braces itself ahead of funeral of three Gorkhaland supporters

Already surcharged by a month of agitation for a separate state, the situation in Darjeeling can potentially worsen on Sunday for the cremation of three Gorkhaland supporters.

india Updated: Jul 09, 2017 12:18 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Darjeeling,Gorkhaland agitation,GJM
Policemen near a burning railway station on Saturday during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling. (AFP)

Tension may rise in Darjeeling on Sunday when the bodies of the three persons killed over the last two days will be cremated.

While Tashi Bhutia will be cremated at Sonada, about 20 km from Darjeeling town, the last rites of Samir Gurung and Suraj Sundas are scheduled to be performed in Darjeeling itself.

Samir Gurung was a cook in a home stay near Ropeway Singamari. Bhutia used to run a beef shop in Sonada. Sundas was a daily wage earner.

However, locals were apprehensive whether police would allow the bodies to be brought to the town for cremation as it may fuel tension in a town roiled by violence for a month.

It has been raining heavily in Darjeeling since Sunday morning. Police officers are hoping the rain will help in keeping the situation under control.

Throughout Saturday, angry protesters fought pitched battles with the police and set fire to a toy train railway station, government offices, traffic police outpost and police vehicles. The administration again asked for deployment of the army that went back to the barracks only about a week ago.

On Saturday night, the agitators made an unsuccessful attempt to set ablaze the subdivisional office at Kurseong. A rural library in Ghayabari suffered partial damage after a fire burnt some books. Agitators also tried to set on fire an irrigation department office at Gorubathan in Kalimpong district.

Read more: Doors for talks on Gorkhaland with Mamata govt closed forever, says GJM

In the evening, GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang rejected chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s offer, saying if they have to talk to anybody, it would be the Centre and only on one agenda of a separate state.

The chief minister had said in Kolkata that she was open to dialogue if the agitators shun violence.

Sunday was the 25th day of the unbroken spell of total stoppage of public life as part of an indefinite bandh called to press for the formation of Gorkhaland. There is no public transport operating in the Darjeeling hills.

The Internet remains shut down as the government struggles to tackle the agitation. But despite chain of violence since June 8, the police have not made a single arrest.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 12:10 IST