Hills erupt after raids on GJM chief

The "Queen of Hills" virtually turned into a battlefield as protests marked the shutdown which was countered by supporters of Bengal's ruling the Trinamool Congress and dominant hill party, the GJM.

I am the chief minister of the hills.

Violence erupted on Saturday after the alleged police raid and vandalising of the residence of Tamang at around 3 a.m.

While Bimal Shashanker from Goke Busty and Sunil Rai from Kainjalay died in police firing in Singmari in Darjeeling, Mahesh Gurung was shot during a protest rally at Ghoom.

"One of our supporters was killed by police fire at Singamari", claimed Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the GJM. The GJM leader said the home minister assured them that he would speak to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the issue and try to find a solution. "So we need to prepare ourselves to counter the state government democratically", GJM central committee member and former in-charge of GLP Colonel (retd) Ramesh Alley told PTI. Giving details of the Singmari incident, a senior police officer said prohibitory orders were in force in the area and the police told the protesters, who were carrying the tricolour and GJM flags, to return.

Local sources said Kiran Tamang, an India Reserve Battalion officer, was stabbed in the back with a traditional Gorkha knife as security forces struggled to contain thousands-strong mob that torched police vehicles and ransacked government property, shouting anti-government slogans.

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The police had to resort to lathicharge and use teargas shells to control them.

Gorkhaland supporters had also vandalised government offices in Darjeeling as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)- sponsored indefinite shutdown forced tourists out of the picturesque hill station due to threat of violence. The protestors were extremely violent and were throwing stones, bottles and even petrol bombs on security personnel.

Meanwhile in what seemed like the Hill agitation is slowly spreading in the Plains the GJM and associated parties had called a 12-hour bandh in Dooars region on Sunday. "They [the GJM] have connections with insurgent groups of the North East".

GJM, Alley said, wants to raise a 8000-strong force in Darjeeling hills which will be well prepared to tackle "any kind of situation". The current chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had also backed it when his party was in the opposition.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also backed the police claims and accused the GJM of having links with terrorists and insurgent groups in the northeast. I challenge her (Mamata Banerjee) to stop the agitation in the hills.

The turmoil, was set off by the state government's announcement on introduction of compulsory teaching of Bengali language in schools.

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