Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung said the West Bengal was lying about the separatist movement being supported by Northeast India's insurgent groups. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung on Sunday attacked the West Bengal chief minister of spreading canards to dilute their separatist movement.
West Bengal head Mamata Banerjee had insinuated on Saturday that the struggle for a separate state was fuelled by insurgent groups active in Northeast India and foreign elements.
Reacting to her statement, 51-year-old Gurung said: "The allegations are baseless, Mamata Banerjee is trying to mislead people. It is not a political fight but a fight for our own identity."
Gurung, whose party is spearheading the movement, also gave out a clarion call to his supporters to intensify their demand to carve out a new state from West Bengal named Gorkhaland.
He urged that the agitation would continue and shot a warning to government officials that there would be "trouble" if the police tried to stop us.
"We will not stop until and unless Gorkhaland is achieved. The struggle will intensify in the hills," Gurung said in an audio-visual statement.
The statement comes a day after the GJM claimed that two of their supporters were shot dead by the police in Singmari, a locality in Darjeeling, the hotbed of the statehood protests.
Darjeeling remains on shutdown mode for the seventh consecutive day as thousands of supporters took to the streets to mark their protest against the killing of the two GJM supporters.
The rally is currently ongoing despite the police not giving the GJM supporters the authority to stage one.
The Times of India quoted a senior police official as saying that the authorities had "not given permission" to hold any rally in the Darjeeling hills.
Tensions in the region re-ignited over a decision to introduce the state's Bengali language in schools, angering the ethnic Nepali-speaking Gorkhas.
The language protest subsequently morphed into a decades-old calls for a separate state earlier this week.
Since then, Darjeeling has been in the throes of violence, arson attacks, brutal government crackdown and political recriminations.
The statehood protests have triggered violence in the region protesters and police have clashed in recent days.
On June 17, baton-wielding police fired teargas shells to disperse protesters after they were attacked with stones, leaving 12 people injured in the attack.
Earlier, the local police also conducted raids on the homes and offices of several members of the GJM.
Federal government urges peaceful dialogue
The federal government of India has urged the West Bengal government and Gorkhaland protesters to hold peaceful dialogue to resolve the situation.
India's internal affairs minister Rajnath Singh tweeted: "All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment.
"In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution.
"I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence."
Singh also spoke to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee today and discussed with her the situation prevailing there.
"She (Banerjee) has apprised me of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling," he said.
Bimal Gurung has vowed to continue the agitation for a separate state as Sunday's rally commemorates death of protesters