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Published On: Sat, Jun 17th, 2017

IRB commandant Stabbed After Protests Turn Violent In Darjeeling

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603422-darjeelingDARJEELING: Trouble-hit Darjeeling continued to simmer on Saturday as an assistant commandant of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) was injured when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists clashed with security forces here.
The GJM announced an indefinite general strike from Monday in the hills encompassing Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and the Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas covering stretches of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar district) protesting against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to make Bengali language compulsory in state-run schools.

The strike was called even as the Chief Minister give an assurance that the new rule would not be imposed in the hill districts.The IRB second battalion Assistant Commandant Kiran Tamang was critically injured after being hit by a ‘khukri’ (sharp-edged weapon) during the clash on the sixth day of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-sponsored indefinite shutdown, IRB sources said. Tamang was later brought to Siliguri for treatment, Mrinal Ghosh, Commandant IRB Second battalion, said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, commenting on the incident, said in Kolkata: “As per the reports we got, Kiran Tamang is critically injured. He is not dead.”Earlier, she had said the Assistant Commander was dead. Meanwhile, GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang claimed that two of his party workers were killed when the police opened fire at a GJM procession here.

ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma, however, denied the allegation and said the police did not open fire.”It was the GJM activists who opened fire,” he said. Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee condemned the vandalism by the GJM and alleged “deep-rooted conspiracy”.

“This is a deep-rooted conspiracy. So much of arms and ammunition couldn’t have come in a single day. There is an international border and state border. They are violating the Constitution. They are only throwing bombs. They are stockpiling illegal arms and bombs,” she said. Banerjee alleged the GJM had connections with the northeast insurgency groups.

“I am told there is a connection with underground insurgency from northeast India. I have requested that they should not extend any support in Darjeeling,” she said. The “Queen of Hills” virtually turned into a battlefield as protests marked the shutdown which was countered by supporters of West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress and dominant hill party, the GJM.

At around 3 am on Saturday, Tamang claimed his house was “raided and vandalised by the police and the Trinamool Congress cadres” in the same manner as they had raided party chief Bimal Gurung’s house in Darjeeling district two days ago. Widespread protests erupted in Singamari (northern point of Darjeeling) as the women’s wing of the GJM rallied with shrill sloganeering against the raid at Tamang’s residence.

Hundreds of women activists ratcheted up the demand for the separate state of Gorkhaland with slogans of “Gorkhaland Gorkhaland” holding aloft the tricolour. Police fired tear gas shells as the women activists pelted stones and pushed back at the police barricade shouting “Police Go Back”. Tamang had also claimed police arrested Vikram Rai, the son of GJM MLA Amar Rai. Amar Rai said his son has no political affiliations.
“We are shocked and stunned to inform you all that Vikram Rai – a local journalist, was arrested last night. Rai was associated with various media houses based in Kolkata and was also a stringer for a television channel. If local journalists are not safe in Darjeeling, who is,” Tamang said in statement.
Rajnath Singh reviews security in Darjeeling, more troops sent; situation remains tense

GJM supporters pelted stones and lobbed petrol bombs at the residence of Trinamool Congress activist Deoraj Gurung in Lebong Cart Road and attempted to set the house on fire, claimed Deoraj.At Pankhabari, the picturesque tea gardens-lined but notoriously narrow road from Bagdogra airport to Kurseong, GJM supporters allegedly attacked a local Trinamool activist’s residence.

According to a railway official, the toy-train services of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has been suspended in view of the strike for the safety of passengers and staffs.

 

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