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SI killed as fresh clashes break out in Darjeeling

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on January 08, 2018

Violence erupted in Darjeeling on Friday after a prolonged period of lull with clashes breaking out between the police and the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha supporters. A sub-inspector was shot dead and several police officers injured.

According to Anuj Sharma, ADG (Law and Order), clashes broke out after police raided a forest to catch Bimal Gurung, the leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Gurung, charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, is wanted by the Bengal government over multiple clashes and a 104-day shut down that crippled the Darjeeling region since June this year.

The GJM has been at the forefront of the Gorkhaland movement – demanding that a separate state be carved out from the Darjeeling hills.

“One sub-inspector, Amitabha Mullick, has been shot dead; and at least three others have been injured. A police vehicle has been set on fire. Operations are still on,” Sharma told presspersons at the State Secretariat this afternoon.

The clashes began inside a forest at Lapchey Bustee, about 20 km from Darjeeling town. Unconfirmed reports said a few more people could have died in the clashes.

Insurgent groups at work

According to Sharma, intelligence reports suggest that Gurung has been in touch with Maoists and other North-East-based insurgent groups. Weapons are being procured from them.

Supporting his claims, the senior police officer said six assault rifles, 500 rounds of ammunition, pistol and bomb and bomb-making ingredients have been recovered.

“Gurung had instructed his cadres to attack police personnel. The morning ambush occurred when police, after having specific information, raided the area,” he said.

The police believe Gurung has been hiding in Sikkim and in areas bordering Bengal and Sikkim ever since arrest warrants were issued.

Peace u nder threat

The morning ambush has put a question mark on the peace efforts in the region.

It comes in the wake of the Centre’s move to discuss the state of affairs in the Darjeeling hills. The West Bengal government will also be holding a bilateral meeting at the state secretariat on October 16.

Incidentally, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already appointed expelled GJM leaders, Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa, as interim chairman and vice-chairman of the board of administrators in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the semi-autonomous body, to run the affairs in the hills.

The pro-talks faction of GJM that Tamang heads is expected to meet the Chief Minister today afternoon at the State Secretariat.

Published on October 13, 2017

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