A police sub inspector was killed in Darjeeling after security personnel clashes with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) agitators on Friday. A police vehicle was also set on fire by the agitators. The incident occurred at Tukvar area near Patlaybas, during a police raid in the area to arrest GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
Five policemen, including Sub Inspector Amitava Mullick, were injured in the attack and rushed to a local hospital. Mullick later succumbed to his injuries. According to GJM sources, one of their supporters has sustained critical injuries. A large number of police personnel have been deployed in the area and a combing operation is underway.
“Bimal Gurung and his team were near Darjeeling. Police raided and an exchange of fire took place and we lost a Sub Inspector. Two policemen have been injured. After searching the area, police recovered six AK-47 rifles, one nine mm pistol, 500 rounds of ammunition and bomb making material,” ADG law and order Anuj Sharma said in a press conference.
“Bimal Gurung was in Sikkim. He tried to enter Darjeeling and police went for him. He is trying to move to Sikkim again,” Sharma said. “We have intelligence that Bimal Gurung has links with the Maoists and insurgents from the North East,” he added.
According to the police, raids were conducted at Patlaybas (residence of Gurung) and surrounding areas based on information from sources. Police also suspected that a cache of arms and ammunition are stored in the area. While police tried to enter a house in the area, clashes broke out. They faced resistance while conducting the raid, where shots were allegedly fired and stones were pelted at them. The police retaliated.
“We have been saying that Bimal Gurung and his followers are trying to create unrest in the Hills. They do not believe in democratic agitation. Gurung will soon be arrested. There are a number of cases against him,” said State Tourism Minister and Trinamool Congress leader from Siliguri Gautam Deb.
Following Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s appeal, GJM on September 26 withdrew the indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills which had continued for 104 days. The union home ministry is also preparing for talks with GJM leaders in Delhi.
Meanwhile, the state government appointed Binay Tamang, expelled GJM leader, as the head of the administrative board to run Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). Tamang has been trying to spread his base in the Hills in the absence of Gurung and other leaders who are either in hiding or are in New Delhi.
Gurung and others have been in hiding after a number of cases were slapped against them including under sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.