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10 Jul 2017

'Victim's family served Army for generations'

Jayanta Gupta | TNN | Jul 9, 2017, KOLKATA: The family of Tashi Bhutia (30) has served the Army for generations, yet he was shot dead by the police in Sonada -nearly 15 km from Darjeeling -on Friday evening, like a common criminal, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leadership said on Saturday, warning of deterioration of the situation in the Hills in the days to come.

The resurgence of violence between Friday and Saturday, that claimed three lives, has actually helped the GNLF inch closer to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on the issue of Gorkhaland, barely days after speculations of a rift.

"Bhutia's brothers are still serving in the Army. He was surrounded by a police patrol party on Friday and shot dead. He was not armed and wasn't participating in any violent agitation. Why did the police have to shoot him. We now wonder whether we live in the country of Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose or are being led by someone like North Korea's Kim Jong-un. The chief minister is also against the telecast of news from the Hills and has clamped down on the internet.This is a draconian step. We feel that things are only going to deteriorate in the days to come unless the Centre steps in," GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba told TOI.

The indefinite strike in the Hills, that began after the police raid on GJM president Bimal Gurung's residence at Patlewas, completed its third week on Saturday. Though the GNLF -a Trinamool ally in the last elections -preferred a cautious approach initially, the party had no option but to join the movement for a separate state after the deaths of three GJM supporters in police firing on June 17. Barely a few days ago, GJM leaders started alleging that the GNLF is attempting to weaken the movement by calling for greater autonomy under Schedule 6 of the Constitution.

"There is no backing out now," Zimba said.

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