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17 Jun 2017

Darjeeling clashes spiral into deaths

Kiran Tamang
TT, Darjeeling, June 17 (PTI): An assistant commandant of the Indian Reserve Battalion was injured when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activists clashed with security forces here on the third day of the indefinite shutdown called by the GJM over its demand for a separate state.
Kiran Tamang of the 2nd IRB battalion was critically injured after being hit by a khukri and was rushed to a hospital.
(KalimNews: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Calcutta later that the assistant commandant was critically injured, and not killed.)
GJM leader Binay Tamang claimed that two of his party workers were killed when the police opened fire at a GJM procession.
Anuj Sharma, the Additional Director-General of police in charge of law and order in the state, denied that the police had opened fire.
“It was the GJM activists who opened fire,” he said
When GJM supporters violated prohibitory orders and took out a procession on Saturday, the police stopped them. The GJM supporters then threw stones and bottles at the police, which retaliated with tear-gas shells and a baton charge.
On Friday night, the police had picked up a GJM legislator's son and raided the residence of another leader following an attempt by some party supporters to torch an office of the Public Works Department in Bijanbari area here.
The GJM said police had picked up Vikram Rai, son of Amar Rai, a member of the West Bengal legislative assembly. Vikram is in charge of the GJM’s media cell. The police also raided Binay Tamang's house.
Shops, hotels and business establishments, barring pharmacies, remained closed.
The police are on high alert after Friday's violence and arson. Security forces are conducting route marches in various parts of the hills.
The indefinite bandh was called after the police raided the premises linked to GJM chief Bimal Gurung on Thursday.
The GJM had earlier called a shutdown of the offices of state government and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, which it controls.
The current agitation was sparked by the state government’s announcement making Bengali a compulsory subject in schools. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee later said the decision would not be implemented in the Darjeeling hills.
But the GJM persisted with its agitation, and then called a shutdown, which has emptied the hills of tourists.

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