Clashes, protests intensify amid shutdown in India's Darjeeling town

Clashes, protests intensify amid shutdown in India's Darjeeling town

Clashes, protests intensify amid shutdown in India's Darjeeling town

On Saturday morning, GJM protesters have planned to take out a "Dandi march" on the lines of the one that Mahatma Gandhi undertook in 1930.

The protesters, also carrying black flags and the Tricolour, assembled at the Chowkbazar.

Coming down heavily on the GJM violence, Banerjee said: "We have come to know from the police that there is a link (of GJM) with terrorists".

Darjeeling is limping as GJM has intensified the ongoing protests with the supporters indulging in widespread arson following the state government's crackdown on party chief Bimal Gurung's house.

Banerjee said the kind of "hooliganism and vandalism", being seen during the unrest in the hills, can only be executed if there is a "terrorist brain" behind it and the Centre should extend full help to the state to contain it.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung on Sunday attacked the West Bengal chief minister of spreading canards to dilute their separatist movement.

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Singh also spoke to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday and discussed with her the situation prevailing there. Police said at least 25 people were injured in clashes.

Almost 50 people, mostly police, have been injured in riots and arson attacks that have gripped the usually bustling area for more than a week and caused thousands of mostly Indian tourists to pack their bags and flee. "I salute the martyrs killed in police firing".

She, however, did not directly blame the BJP for the violent agitation, which she claimed was supported by insurgent groups of the northeast and some foreign countries.

A large contingent of the army, paramilitary and the police are deployed in the hill state which turned a violence zone since the last few days owing to GJM's protests over the demand for a separate state in Darjeeling.

GJM workers, who launched their agitation on June 8, had hurled petrol bombs, stones and bottles at the police at several places on Saturday, which led the security forces to lob teargas shells and resort to baton-charge to disperse the mobs, according to a police official. The police, however, refuted such claims and counter accused the GJM of firing first.

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

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"The allegations are baseless, Mamata Banerjee is trying to mislead people".

"We said (at that time) kindly examine the merits of the case individually".

Barring pharmacies, all others shops and hotels were closed in Darjeeling.

Meanwhile, Rajnath Singh said the Centre would send more forces "if required" to Darjeeling.

GJM supporters allegedly vandalised two cars in Kurseong and torched three panchayat offices in the neighbouring Kalimpong district while a prominent library in Kalimpong town went ablaze with the administration blaming "GJM-backed goons" for it.

A senior bureaucrat said that since the hills are dependent on the plains for ration and other essential commodities, it will not be possible for the GJM to continue with their strike for an indefinite period.

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