Despite the GJM's claim, ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma had on Saturday denied the allegation of police firing. A few GJM youths stood in solemn silence around a vehicle in which was placed a picture of one of the protesters who was killed the day before. Eight protestors have suffered bullet injuries in the Singamari area alone, an eyewitness said, requesting that he not be named.
In the midst of all the violence and unrest in the district, the worst affected is the tourism sector as thousands of tourists have fled Darjeeling - known as the Queen of the Hills - since clashes broke out on June 8 between the GJM and the government forces. "We are not interested in talks with Mamata Banerjee and her TMC government", he said.
"What is happening today is a deep-rooted conspiracy".
Citing a large number of arms and ammunition ranging from crossbow, knives and khukris the police recovered after it raided GJM chief Binay Tamang's residence on Friday, CM Banerjee raised questions about the financial support the agitators are getting to conduct violent protests in Darjeeling. "We can not allow them to violate the national flag". They are only throwing bombs.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) workers hurled petrol bombs, stones and bottles at the police at several places which led the security forces to lob teargas shells and resort to baton-charge to disperse the mobs, a police official said.
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Puffs of white smoke rose above Darjeeling's streets Saturday as dozens of riot police clashed with angry crowds shouting slogans demanding the creation of a new Indian state, prompting authorities to deploy the army. The GJM has long called for a new state of "Gorkhaland" to be carved out of West Bengal.
The protesters, carrying black flags and the tricolour, assembled at Chowkbazar. They set our vehicles ablaze. According to police sources, the step was taken to stop the GJM activists from using social media to spread "messages and provocative posts".
The government has signalled it won't bow down before the GJM but is facing an unprecedented crisis just weeks after the Trinamool Congress made history by registering its first victory in a hill municipality when it won Mirik.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said in Kolkata that India Rerserve Battalion's Assistant Commandant Kiran Tamang was critically injured in the violence.
Referring to the agitation against alleged imposition of Bengali, she said it was only an optional subject and not mandatory and GJM was spreading rumours to misguide the people of the hills. "I call upon every Gorkha family to come out against the state administration that has unleashed this repression", Gurung said from an undisclosed location.
The Mamata Banerjee government in West Bengal had asked the Centre for four additional paramilitary companies to be sent to Darjeeling on Thursday afternoon.