KOLKATA: In an event that may further complicate things for Mamata Banerjee, three Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters died and five others were injured when police opened fire on protest rallies at Darjeeling and Ghoom in Darjeeling district of West Bengal on Saturday.
While Bimal Shashanker from Goke Busty and Sunil Rai from Kainjalay died in police firing in Singmari in Darjeeling, Mahesh Gurung was shot during a protest rally at Ghoom. He died at Sonada area while being taken to hospital in Siliguri. Also, Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) commandant Kiran Tamang was seriously injured when protestors attacked him from behind with khukuri. He is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Siliguri. Also, five GJM supporters injured in the firing were also shifted to Siliguri.
The rallies were organised after police raided the residence of GJM assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang early on Saturday morning and arrested journalism professor at St Joseph College and GJM media cell coordinator Vikram Rai on Friday night. He was released after 4-5 hours of interrogation.
GJM chief Bimal Gurung, who is in hiding, said that the police firing would strengthen the movement for statehood. “Police have illegally entered the houses of supporters and tortured them. We will strengthen our movement now,” he said to a news agency.
However, police have claimed that the deaths were not due to police firing. “Police have not fired. GJM supporters attacked us with bomb and stones,” ADG (law and order) Anuj Sharma.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee not only denied that the police opened fire, but also claimed that the deaths were due to GJM firing and that the hill party had developed links with rebel groups in the Northeast.
“Police have not opened fire on the protestors. The protestors were killed when GJM activists opened fire. GJM has links with insurgent groups of North East. I urge the insurgents not to extend support to GJM to destabilise West Bengal. GJM also has links with foreign groups from where they are getting money and arms,” Mamata Banerjee said.