Darjeeling: An assistant commandant of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) was killed when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists clashed with security forces in Darjeeling on Saturday.
The IRB second battalion Assistant Commandant Kiran Tamang was critically injured after being hit by a ‘khukri’ (sharp-edged weapon) during the clash, IRB sources said.
He was taken to the hospital where he died, they said.
GJM leader Binay Tamang claimed that two of his party workers were killed when the police opened fire at a GJM procession in the hill town.
ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma, however, denied the allegation and said the police did not open fire.
“It was the GJM activists who opened fire,” he said.
Meanwhile, Singmari area in Darjeeling turned into a battleground on Saturday as GJM activists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who in retaliation fired teargas shells and resorted to baton charge.
The incident, in which several people were injured, prompted the administration to deploy Army in the area.
As the indefinite shutdown to demand a separate state entered its third day, GJM activists took out a protest rally from the party’s headquarters in Singmari.
As prohibitory orders were in force in the area, the police told the protesters, who were carrying the tricolour and GJM flags, to return.
The slogan-shouting protesters did not relent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police. A vehicle was also set on fire.
The police fired teargas shells and baton-charged the agitators.
“We asked them to go back but they started throwing stones, bottles and petrol bombs. We had to resort to lathi charge,” a senior police official said.
A large contingent of police and paramilitary personnel was rushed to the spot under the command of the superintendent of police and other senior IPS officers.
Barring pharmacies, all others shops and hotels were closed in Darjeeling.
Reacting to Saturday’s violence, Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said, “The government will not accept the GJM’s hooliganism.”
GJM leaders said Vikram Rai, son of GJM MLA Amar Rai, was ‘picked up’ by the police from Darjeeling.
Vikram is the in-charge of the GJM’s media cell.
The police on Friday night raided the residence of senior GJM leader Binay Tamang, following which party activists tried to torch a PWD office in Bijanbari area in Darjeeling.