Five security force personnel were seriously injured in an attack by suspected GJM activists in the Darjeeling hills, while a 20-year-old truck driver injured in an incident of arson died in Kolkata today. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists set afire several houses and offices across the hills on the 16th day of the indefinite bandh, called by it to press its demand for a separate state. Life remained crippled due to the bandh in Darjeeling where Internet services were shut. Security forces patrolled the trouble-torn areas. The attack on the security personnel took place last night when they had gone to a village near Teesta Valley, 40 km from Darjeeling, to conduct a search operation. A mob targeted the security personnel with stones and ‘khukri’ (traditional Nepali dagger), injuring five of them seriously. The injured police and CRPF personnel were later rescued and admitted to a hospital, the police said. In another incident, the house of Mirik Municipality vice-chairman M Zimba was set afire by the protesters this morning.
The supporters also ransacked Rangli Rangliat police outpost last night and snatched a self-loading rifle and a pistol. Two police vehicles were set ablaze in the incident, the police said. The building of Tung Gram panchayat was also set on fire last night, it said. A meeting of political outfits including the GJM had yesterday decided to carry on with the indefinite shutdown. Aniket Chetri, the truck driver who had received 70 per cent burns when his truck was set afire on June 20 by GJM activists, today succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Kolkata. His body was taken to Siliguri for conducting the last rites. With this, the state police said that the toll in the violence in the hills has risen to two. On June 17, a man was killed during clashes. The GJM, however, said two more of its supporters were killed on June 17. Meanwhile, the police and security forces today recovered a revolver and a self-loading rifle, taken away by the agitators from the team Teesta Valley last night.
Two police vehicles were also damaged by the mob in Teesta Valley area. The GJM activists took out several rallies in various parts of Darjeeling hills, including Chowkbazar, demanding a separate Gorkhaland state. GJM activists organised signature campaigns in favour of Gorkhaland at some places in the hills. Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has sought 10 companies of the CRPF from the Centre to deal with the situation in the hills, the request having come just two days after the Army contingents were withdrawn at the state’s request. “We had asked for 10 companies of the CRPF for the hills earlier. But four companies of women police force and three companies of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel were sent,” Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha told reporters at the secretariat in Kolkata. “We have again asked for 10 companies of the CRPF for the hills. At present, there is no Army in the hills,” he said.
Describing the ongoing unrest in the hills as “destructive activities by some extremist elements”, the DGP said that the state government would not tolerate this and would take strong action. Meanwhile, the state government told the Calcutta High Court that it urgently needed additional Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) personnel to deal with the situation in Darjeeling. The court directed the additional solicitor general, representing the Union government, to take instructions from the Centre on its position over the deployment of more CAPF personnel in Darjeeling.