The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha alleged that a youth had been killed in police firing in the Darjeeling hills on Saturday, reported PTI. While GJM and other parties claimed that Tashi Bhutia had been shot dead by the police early in the morning, police officials denied receiving reports of any firing.
“We don’t have any reports of police firing as of now,” a police official said. “We are looking into the incident.”
The incident happened when Tashi Bhutia was on his way back home at Sonada at around 12.30 am, GJM claimed.
The GJM has lodged a police complaint accusing the police of killing the youth. “The youth was killed by police without any reason,” GJM leader Binay Tamang said. “His body has bullet injuries. We demand that the policemen involved be punished.”
“An innocent youth has been murdered. We are deeply pained,” Gorkha National Liberation Front Neeraj Zimba said according to NDTV.
As news of the youth’s death spread, hundreds of Gorkhaland supporters came out on the streets and chanted slogans against police atrocities. The GJM has decided to take out a rally with the body in the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling later on Saturday.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accused the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Centre of having a “non-cooperative attitude”. “Border areas are being disturbed with foreign hands having good relations with BJP,” Banerjee said.
“I appeal to Darjeeling to not resort to violence and instead make peace,” the chief minister said.
The Centre had said on Friday that it was keen on holding tripartite talks with the GJM and the West Bengal government to end the agitation.
Barring medicine outlets, all shops, schools, colleges remained closed on Saturday in the hills. Internet services remained suspended for the 21st day. Police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept vigil on the entry and exit routes. Two Army columns have been deployed to Darjeeling and Sonada respectively. Protestors set a toy train railway station ablaze at Sonata.
The Darjeeling unrest began after Banerjee had announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Though she had said that hill districts will be exempted from the rule, the GJM began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.