Kolkata: Even as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) threw a 10-day deadline at the Centre to intervene to resolve the standoff in West Bengal’s Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, supporters of the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland clashed with the police, and according to one GJM leader two persons were killed in police firing.
The administration denied the police opened fire and that anyone was dead at all, while admitting that at least one person was taken to a hospital with a serious head injury. This person is now being treated for his injuries and his condition is stable, said a top Darjeeling district official, who asked not to be named.
Conflicting reports came from within the GJM: its vice president Vishal Chhetri made a press statement saying two persons had died when the police attacked a rally of 400 Gorkhaland supporters in Sukhna, and the party’s assistant general secretary Binoy Tamang later said at least four persons had been injured and two were battling life-threatening head injuries in a hospital in Siliguri town.
On Saturday, a group of around 400 Gorkhaland supporters took out a rally brandishing khukuris, or traditional Gorkha knives, and were headed towards the plains breaching a police barricade. To stop them from advancing, the police baton charged them and fired from water-canons, but did not use firearms, said the unnamed official cited above.
The police fired at a peaceful rally, alleged GJM’s Chhetri.
Meanwhile, after consultations within the party supporting the Gorkhaland movement, the GJM said it will intensify the blockade if the Centre did nothing to address the issue. The movement will be spread to the plains adjoining the two disturbed districts of West Bengal, and Gorkhaland supporters will block supplies to neighbouring Sikkim, said GJM’s Tamang.
The GJM may be compelled to block national highways 10 and 33 and disrupt supply of baby food and ration if the Centre remained unmoved, he added.