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Darjeeling: Army called in after tensions mount, two dead in unrest

There were reports that Bhutia was stopping vehicles which were moving to Sonada. Photograph: (AFP)

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jul 08, 2017, 07.15 AM (IST)

Amid the ongoing unrest in the hills of Darjeeling demanding a separate state, a Gorkhaland supporter was found dead in Sonada on the outskirts of Darjeeling on Friday.

The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) allege Tashi Bhutia was shot dead by the police.

The army has been called out in Darjeeling as violence spread after Tashi Bhutia's death in the alleged police firing, Army sources told PTI.

Sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs told PTI that reports requested by the federal government to facilitate review in Darjeeling and riot-hit Basirhat were being delayed by the West Bengal government.

GNLF spokesperson, Neeraj Zimba, said Tashi Bhutia had gone to a medical shop to buy medicines for this brother, where he met a convoy of eight to nine CRPF personnel.

"Something happened and Tashi was shot on a point blank range. And so we condemn this incident of brutal police firing on an innocent Gorkhaland supporter," ANI quoted Zimba as saying.

Later in the day, another person was reported to have been shot dead in Darjeeling's Chowk Bazaar. NDTV said there was no clarity on the identity of the person and the circumstances of his death. 

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway toy train was also torched by protesters. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Ma mata Banerjee appealed to people of Darjeeling not to resort to violence and remain peaceful. She also asked agitators in Darjeeling to withdraw shutdown and come for talks. The West Bengal chief minister added that negotiations were a part of a democratic system but peace had to be restored first.

"Negotiations are part of a democratic system but let peace be restored first," Mamata Banerjee said. "I appeal to Darjeeling to not resort to violence and instead make peace."

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According to ANI, there were reports that Bhutia was stopping vehicles which were moving to Sonada.

But, Zimba denied the claims.

"No, that is what the police claims. There will be counter allegations, but there were twelve to thirteen police convoys and they stopped one unarmed person and shot him," he told ANI.

"Why was he shot on a point blank range on his forehead? Police could have easily caught him and taken him into custody, if he had done something," said Zimba.

Protests erupted in Darjeeling after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee decided to make Bengali compulsory for all schools in the state. An indefinite strike was announced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on June 12.


 

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