An eminent novelist and a noted singer from Darjeeling hills today returned their awards conferred by West Bengal government protesting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s policy and in support for Gorkhaland. Novelist KS Mukhtan claimed that the ruling Trinamool Congress dispensation has applied a number of repressive measures. He said that people of Darjeeling are carrying this movement to achieve Gorkhaland which is their right of self determination, as per ANI report. Singer Karma Yonjan said he got the award in December 2016 but is returning it to the government in protest. He said that he does not want the award but desires the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state.
This comes a day after pro-Gorkhaland supporters yesterday set ablaze a panchayat office and damaged a few government vehicles. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the agitation, took out a rally at Chowkbazar in Darjeeling with the body of Ashok Tamang, who died on Tuesday night in a hospital where he was admitted after being allegedly injured in Saturday’s clashes between the police and GJM supporters.
The GJM claimed that Tamang received serious head injuries during a baton charge by the police. The police, however, said it was not clear whether he died of injuries or some other reason. Internet services remained suspended for the 25th day, as per PTI report.
While an Army column, comprising around 50 personnel, has been deployed in Kalimpong since Monday night, two columns have been positioned at Darjeeling and Sonada from Saturday after large-scale violence and arson took place in those areas.
While the GJM has claimed that eight of its supporters have been killed in police firing, including four on Saturday, the police have said two persons have been killed in the hills, including a truck driver whose vehicle was set ablaze during the over month-long agitation that turned violent on June 17.
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A meeting of the hill parties in Mirik had decided to go on with the indefinite shutdown and start a hunger strike to press the demand for a separate state of ‘Gorkhaland’ from July 15.