Kolkata: Violent protests for statehood in the Darjeeling Hills took an ugly turn on Saturday with the police and supporters of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) engaged in violent clashes after the son of a Morcha MLA was arrested and a senior GJM leader’s house allegedly vandalised Friday night.
While the GJM claimed that two of its supporters were killed in Darjeeling’s Singmari, an allegation denied by the police, the ADG police said that an officer had been stabbed by Morcha protesters and several personnel injured. A police vehicle was also set on fire by the protesters.
West Bengal Chief Minister went on the offensive on Saturday and slammed the GJM for the ongoing unrest. She claimed that the GJM had connections with terrorists and firearms were collected and distributed among party workers to spread unrest just before the (GTA) election.
“Five years you (GJM) enjoyed, now when elections are coming you start violence because you have lost credentials... What is happening is a deep-rooted conspiracy. These arms were not collected in a day, they were collected over time,” she said.
The agitation in Darjeeling was initially against the forced implementation of Bengali language in schools, but soon transformed into a renewed demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
In 2012, the GJM secured all the 45 seats at the GTA — some of them unopposed. Ms Banerjee, fresh from making inroads into the municipal politics in Darjeeling hills, has said that the elections to the GTA may be held anytime soon.
Bimal Gurung’s GJM is an ally of the BJP in NDA.
Reacting to Morcha’s claim that two of their supporters were killed in police firing, additional director general of police (law and order) Anuj Sharma said, “It was the Morchas who had fired. Several of our vehicles were set on fire, government property ransacked and as many as 35 police personnel were injured, including serious injury to Kiran Tamang, an India Reserve Battalion officer who was stabbed in the back with a traditional Gorkha knife.”
Ms Banerjee backed the police’s claims and said that GJM has fired and not the police.
“Many of their (GJM) leaders have been chargesheeted in the Madan Tamang murder case. They are doing this vandalism to save themselves,” she said.
GJM leaders, however, demanded a judicial probe into the death of their two supporters.
“We want judicial probe in the death due to police firing. Police did not fire rubber bullets or water cannons. They opened fire using .303 bullets. Are we the enemies of India?” Morcha spokesperson and assistant general secretary, Binay Tamang, said.
Violent clashes began in the morning, soon after the police raided the residence of Mr Tamang. Morcha supporters alleged that the police ransacked his house and started pelting stones and hurling petrol bombs at the police....