Fresh violence broke out in Darjeeling’s Mirik locality on Tuesday. Protestors demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland are believed to have set two security vehicles and an outpost on fire, PTI reported.
The agitation began after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha alleged that its member Ashok Tamang was killed in police firing on Monday. GJM claimed that officers had opened fire at pro-Gorkhaland activists in Mirik, but the West Bengal Police have denied the allegation.
The GJM had taken out a rally carrying Tamang’s body on Tuesday. They also staged a sit-in protest outside the district magistrate’s office in Darjeeling.
GJM supporters torched an old municipal building in Mirik and vandalised other buildings. The police said they had fired teargas shells and used batons on protestors to quell the clashes, but had not open fire at them.
“GJM supporters had resorted to hooliganism and had been vandalising public property,” West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said, according to DNA. “The death must have been during the rampage.”
As the unrest (pictured above) in the hills entered its 35th day on Wednesday, Army troops continued to guard the streets of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada. Schools, colleges, shops and restaurants remain shut, and internet services are still suspended.
At least 32 Gorkha leaders are expected the go to Delhi over the next few days to discuss their demand with Union ministers, a member of the Gorkhaland movement’s coordination committee Neeraj Zimba said, according to The Indian Express.
The Darjeeling unrest
Violence broke out in Darjeeling in June after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee 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.