Darjeeling unrest: GJM protester killed, Mamata Banerjee says ready for talks
The demand for a separate Gorkhaland state turned violent today when a policeman was stabbed in fresh clashes between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and security forces. WION brings you more on this Photograph: (WION)
Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the deteriorating law and order situation in Darjeeling, as protesters and police clashed on the sixth day of the indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).
A GJM supporter was killed and a security personnel critically injured as clashes continued over the demand for separate statehood.
An Assistant Commander of the Indian Reserve Battalion is critical and 36 policemen injured after a clash with GJM activists in Darjeeling.
"Five of them received gunshot injuries and two were injured by sharp weapon," the additional director general operations said.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung alleged police were "illegally entering supporters houses and torturing them", and that two supporters had been killed by police.
A top police official, however, said that a GJM supporter died because of firing by GJM supporters, who started firing at the police and set a police vehicle on fire.
The GJM has announced an indefinite strike from Monday encompassing Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and the Dooars protesting against Mamata Banerjee's decision to make Bengali language compulsory in state-run schools.
The strike was called even after the chief minister assured that the new rule would not be imposed in the hill districts.
Clashes were reported from Darjeeling's Ghoom Station, which was vandalised by protesters. Morcha supporters allegedly started stone pelting and police retaliated by firing tear gas shells, WION has learnt.
GJM supporters started firing at police, set police vehicles on fire, 1 GJM supporter died due to firing by GJM supporters: ADG Law&Order pic.twitter.com/fu4X49iFuL— ANI (@ANI_news) June 17, 2017
Mamata Banerjee said her government was ready to talk to the protesters but could not support the "violation of the constitution. She said the protesters were not following the directions of the court, which had passed an order that the bandh was illegal.
Angry GJM protesters pelted stones at security personnel, who in turn resorted to using rubber bullets, batons and teargas shells to disperse the crowd.
Darjeeling has been in shutdown mode after police sources said that prohibitory orders were imposed in the entire area.
There are also reports of protesters torching a police vehicle in the region.
The fresh bout of violence coincides with the federal government dispatching 600 paramilitary personnel to restore normalcy in the troubled hills.
Meanwhile, the police have allegedly arrested the son of a GJM lawmaker on Saturday in connection with his role in protests on June 8, the day West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was attending a cabinet meeting.
GJM Saturday say Vikram Rai, son of MLA GJM Amar Rai, was arrested from his home in Darjeeling around midnight, The Indian Express reported.
The alleged arrest comes a day after GJM leader Bimal Gurung's house was raided by the police.
The GJM's call for a separate state of Gorkhaland gained momentum after six other hill parties extended their support and unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday for a new state to be carved out of Darjeeling hills.
The area is largely populated by Gorkhas who resent the imposition of Bengali, the predominant language of the rest of the state.
Mamta Banerjee addresses the member of Press on sporadic violence in Bengal hills (WION)