Darjeeling: The Army was redeployed on Saturday after fresh violence erupted in Darjeeling hills where Gorkhaland supporters torched a police outpost, a toytrain station and clashed with the police at two places.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the agitation for a separate state carved out of West Bengal, claimed that two youths were killed in police firing. The police, however, said they did not have any report of firing.
The police burst teargas shells and baton-charged activists of the GJM and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) who attacked the security personnel at Sonada and Chawkbazar in the hills.
Two columns of the Army comprising around 100 personnel were deployed at Sonada and Darjeeling in the wake of fresh violence, defence sources said.
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Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appealed for peace and said that the government was ready for talks with the hill parties, but peace has to be restored first. “The government has shown enough restraint in the interest of the people of the hills,” she said.
The chief minister accused the Centre of “deliberate and total non-cooperation” and alleged that it’s refusal to send CRPF personnel, as demanded by the state government, had led to the current situation in the Darjeeling hills where the indefinite shutdown entered its 24th day today.
In New Delhi, Union home ministry sources said 11 companies of paramilitary force personnnel were sent to Darjeeling by the Centre, including one company consisting of women.
The West Bengal government has its own security forces like the Eastern Frontier Rifles and the State Armed Police and both have several battalions, they said, adding that it was not deploying these forces and instead blaming the central government.
GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba claimed that a youth Tashi Bhutia was shot dead by the security forces last night when he had ventured out to purchase medicines at Sonada. But a police officer said, “We don’t have any report of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details later.”
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Shamim, when asked about the firing said, “It will be known only after the inquiry.”
The GJM and other hill parties have lodged a police complaint accusing the force of killing the youth. “His body has bullet injuries. We demand that the policemen involved be punished,” GJM leader Binay Tamang said.
As news of the death spread, hundreds of Gorkhaland supporters came out on the streets and raised slogans against alleged “police atrocities”. They clashed with the police and set on fire a police outpost at Sonada and the toytrain station of the Darjeeling- Himalayan Railways, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
GJM sources claimed that another youth identified as Suraj Sundas was killed in police firing during clashes between the police and the protestors at Chowkbazar area here during the day. The police denied the charge.
The GJM sources claimed that Suraj was caught in the midst of the clashes and was killed when the police fired on the protesters.The Centre had said that it was keen to hold tripartite talks with the GJM and the West Bengal government to end the agitation. With food supply severely hit due to the indefinite strike, the GJM and various NGOs distributed food amongst the people.
The police and the security forces patrolled the streets and kept a vigil on the entry and exit routes.