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Army Deployed in Darjeeling After Youth's Death Leads to Violence

GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba claimed that the youth Tashi Bhutia was shot dead by the security forces when he had gone out to purchase medicines at Sonada. The police, however, said they did not have any report of firing.

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Updated:July 8, 2017, 6:35 PM IST
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Army Deployed in Darjeeling After Youth's Death Leads to Violence
File photo of protests in Darjeeling. Image: Reuters
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New Delhi: The Army was redeployed in West Bengal's Darjeeling hills after fresh violence broke out following the death a youth allegedly in police firing.

Gorkhaland supporters torched a police outpost and a toy train station after a youth was killed om Friday night.

PTI reported that activists of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) also clashed with the police at Sonada and Chawkbazar in Darjeeling as the indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 24th day.

Two columns of the Army comprising around 100 personnel were deployed in Sonada and Darjeeling in the wake of fresh violence, defence sources said.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asked political parties in the Darjeeling hills to return to the path of peace and sit with the government for talks.

"The government is ready for talks with the hill parties, but peace has to be ushered in. The government has shown enough restraint in the interest of the people of the hills. Peace has to return to the hills," she said at a press conference, as Quoted by PTI. She said that if peace returns to the hills in the next 15 days, she would call the hill parties for talks.

Banerjee also hit out at the Centre for "deliberate and total non-cooperation" on the Darjeeling situation. She said, “They are showing total non-cooperation in the Hills. The Darjeeling problem had erupted on June 8 and a month has passed since. Had the CRPF personnel been sent in time, this would not have happened.”

GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba claimed that the youth Tashi Bhutia was shot dead by the security forces when he had gone out to purchase medicines at Sonada. The police, however, said they did not have any report of firing.

"We don't have any report of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details later," a police officer said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP) Javed Shamim, when asked about the firing, said, "It will be known only after the inquiry."

The GJM and other hill parties have lodged a police complaint accusing the police of killing the youth.

"The youth was killed by the 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".

They clashed with the police and set on fire a police outpost at Sonada and the toy train station of the
Darjeeling-Himalayan railways, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The GJM said that it will take out a rally with the body in the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling later in the day.

The Centre had said on Friday 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. The police and the security forces patrolled the streets and kept a vigil on the entry and exit routes.

(With PTI inputs)
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