Darjeeling: Cops killed, injured in clashes with GJM supporters
At least one policeman was killed and four injured in clashes with supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling's Takvar. Violence erupted as cops launched an operation to nab Bimal Gurung, wanted GJM leader. Since June 8, about 13 people have died in the GJM's protests for a separate Gorkha state. Two weeks ago, it had called off a 104-day strike.
Demands for a separate Gorkhaland were initially made to the British Government but it fell on deaf ears. The movement is based on the issues of language and culture. There is also discontent that the state government has been giving them "step-motherly" treatment. Giving in to some demands of autonomy, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was created. But Gurung, unhappy with the DGHC, demanded a more autonomous organization.
The current protests were triggered after WB CM Mamata Banerjee made teaching Bengali mandatory till class X, which Nepali-speaking Gorkhas viewed as linguistic imposition. Gurung demanded a bill exempting Gorkhaland schools from the rule. After violent protests, the GJM called for an indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling starting June 12. After 104 days, it was called off after Home Minister Rajnath Singh's appeal.
Banerjee had rejected the separate statehood demand claiming that it is the Centre's prerogative and not within the state's jurisdiction. Instead, Mamata had attempted to revive the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), DGHC's successor and an autonomous body to administer the area, on September 20 by appointing GJM rebel leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa as chairman and vice-chairman respectively.
The state has been attempting to nab Gurung who has been charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. On October 13, police raided the forests near Lapchey Bustee below Patleybas, the GJM headquarters, 20km from Darjeeling. Cross-firing broke out around 5am and lasted for hours. GJM supporters were also injured. Just a day earlier, Gurung had told media he will appear before people on October 30.