POLITICS

Darjeeling On Edge As Protesters Take Out Rally With Body Of Activist Killed In Clashes With Police

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has appealed for peace.

18/06/2017 2:39 PM IST | Updated 18/06/2017 2:40 PM IST
DIPTENDU DUTTA via Getty Images

DARJEELING (WB) -- Darjeeling remained on the edge today as thousands of protesters assembled at the central Chowkbazar carrying the body of a GJM activist, who was killed during clashes with police, and raised slogans demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Security personnel in large numbers were deployed in the hill district of West Bengal after widespread clashes between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists and the police were witnessed yesterday.

The protesters, also carrying black flags and the Tricolour, assembled at the Chowkbazar. They shouted slogans demanding that the police and security personnel be "immediately removed" from Darjeeling.

"We think the police and security personnel should be immediately removed from Darjeeling to create conducive environment for talks. The government should allow us to carry out peaceful and democratic agitation," Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai of the GJM told reporters here.

The GJM has claimed that two of their supporters were shot dead by police in Singmari yesterday. The police rejected the allegations of firing by its personnel, and said one person was killed during the clashes.

This was the first death since violent protests returned to Darjeeling on June 8, after a gap of a few years.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had yesterday said that the ongoing agitation in Darjeeling hills was a "deep-rooted conspiracy" supported by the insurgent groups of the Northeast and some foreign countries.

The GJM had rubbished the allegation made by Banerjee, saying that she was trying to malign the Gorkhas fighting for their identity.

The police, who have been on high alert after yesterday's violence and arson, conducted route marches with the Army in several parts of the hills.

Police pickets and barricades were placed in front of the government and GTA offices, and various entry-exit points of the hills. Several woman police personnel have also been deployed.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to protesters not to resort to violence and, instead, hold dialogue to resolve any issue.

He said resorting to violence would never help them in finding a solution and asked the people living there to remain calm and peaceful.

"All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment," Singh said.

In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution, he said, emphasising that "every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue".

"I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence," the home minister said in a series of tweets.

Singh also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today and discussed with her the situation prevailing there.

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