Darjeeling unrest: GJM protester killed, Mamata Banerjee says ready for talks

Violence erupts in Darjeeling after raid on GJM chief Bimal Gurung's residence media vehicle set ablaze by agitators

On Saturday, Darjeeling had witnessed widespread clashes between GJM activists and the police in which one person was killed and 35 security personnel were injured, including an India Reserve Battalion officer.

Slamming Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for the ongoing turmoil in Darjeeling, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday called the situation "unfortunate" and asserted to give "tough message" to the miscreants.

He was taken to the hospital where he died, they said.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Binay Tamang claimed that two of his party workers were killed when the police opened fire at a GJM procession here.

The GJM announced an indefinite strike from Monday encompassing Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and the Dooars protesting against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's decision to make Bengali language compulsory in state-run schools.

"It was the GJM activists who opened fire", he said. Several woman police personnel have also been deployed.

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She further implored the people of Darjeeling to not listen to the GJM. "Though I should not name any country directly, I will request the groups of North East not to back these elements". However, things came to a head on June 15, when the police raided the residence of GJM president Bimal Gurung in his stronghold Patlaybas, and recovered weapons and cash, prompting the GJM to call for an indefinite total bandh in the hills. When police stopped them, they hurled stones and bottles. "For five years, they had enjoyed the power and now that the GTA election is round the corner, they are resorting to violence because they know that they have lost their credibility", Banerjee said at a press conference on Saturday. "I am ready to talk to them on this matter as we can not support violation of the Constitution", Mamata added.

The police had also picked up a GJM legislator's son, who heads the party's media cell, late on Friday and raided the home of another leader following an attempt, according to the Telegraph newspaper, by some people to torch a PWD office in Bijanbari area.

"After the Bengal government tried to crush a peaceful protest by sending its police force to the hills, I see less chances of any compromise with the Bengal government", Sharma said. This shows that the state Chief Minister is finding it hard to digest the enormous popularity of GJM in the Hills during the recently held municipal elections.

"The board members of the State have formed a committee assuring that peace will prevail in the hills as it will be their first priority to work on".

The tea industry is going to suffer and the common man too, as shops, commercial institutions and banks remain closed.

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