A youth was killed in police firing, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha alleged today, deepening tensions in the Darjeeling hills where the indefinite strike for a separate state entered its 24th day. Though the GJM, which is spearheading the agitation, and other hill parties said Tashi Bhutia had been shot by the police in the early hours of the morning at Sonada area, police officials denied receiving reports of any firing. “We don’t have any reports of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details in the afternoon,” a police official said.
The incident happened when Tashi Bhutia was on his way back home at Sonada at around 12.30 AM, GJM sources said. The GJM and other hill parties have lodged a police complaint accusing the police of killing the youth. “The youth was killed by police without any reason. His body has bullet injuries. We demand that the policemen involved be punished,” GJM leader Binay Tamang said. As news of his death spread, hundreds of Gorkhaland supporters came out on the streets and raised slogans against “police atrocities”.
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The GJM will take out a rally with the body in the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling later in the day. The Centre had said yesterday that it was keen on holding tripartite talks with the GJM and the West Bengal government to end the agitation. With food supply severely hit due to the indefinite strike, the GJM and various NGOs distributed food amongst the people. Barring medicine outlets, all shops, schools, colleges remained closed. Internet services remained suspended for the 21st day. Police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept vigil on the entry and exit routes.