DARJEELING: After weeks of relative peace in the Darjeeling hills, pro-Gorkhaland supporters clashed with police on the 45th day of the shutdown today, during which, the GJM claimed, one of its supporters suffered a bullet injury.
The GJM claimed that Ajay Chhetri was injured in police firing, a charge denied by the ADG who termed it as "completely baseless".
The present shutdown, which began on June 15, is the longest till date on the statehood issue. The picturesque hill station had witnessed a 40-day bandh in 1988 by the Gorkha National Liberation Front and a 44-day shutdown in 2013 by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).
According to Darjeeling district administration, pro-Gorkhaland supporters armed with knives, swords and traditional kukri (Gorkha knife) tried to forcibly enter Siliguri, demanding that it be included in the Gorkhaland state being demanded by them.
Police which had put up roadblocks near Sukna road crossing asked them to return but the agitators broke the first two barricades and threw stones at them.
Police used water cannons and mild baton charge to disperse the crowd. At this, the protesters turned violent and set afire some vehicles parked nearby.
Few police personnel and GJM activists were injured in the clashes. The GJM supporters were admitted to hospitals for treatment.
The pro-Gorkhaland supporters then launched a sit-in on Sukna-Siliguri road and a huge contingent of police and security forces moved to the area to control the situation.
The GJM leadership claimed that the police resorted to firing.
"One of our supporters named Ajay Chhetri was injured in to police firing. Is this a democracy where no one is allowed to carry out a democratic rally?" Giri said speaking to PTI.
ADG (Law and Order) Anuj Sharma said the claim was "completely baseless".
"Not a single round was fired," he said.
GJM supporters took out rallies at Chowkbazar area during the day amid patrolling by police and security forces.
Normal life remained crippled in the Darjeeling hills due to the ongoing indefinite strike to press for a separate Gorkhaland state. Barring medicine shops, business establishments, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges remained closed.