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Darjeeling protesters hit the streets, Rajnath Singh appeals for calm, peace

Protesters participating in the march wore black armbands and waved black flags as they chanted slogans for Gorkhaland and justice, and demanding that the police and CRPF be withdrawn from the Hills.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya | Darjeeling | Updated: June 19, 2017 2:27 am
 darjeeling unrest, darjeeling protests, gorkhaland, gorkha, gorkhaland statehood, mamata banerjee, india news, indian express Darjeeling: Activists of GJM take out the funeral procession of party activists who died yesterday in Darjeeling on Sunday. (PTI Photo)

A day after police and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) workers fought pitched battle across the Darjeeling Hills and three GJM workers were killed in firing, thousands of protesters poured into the streets to mourn the deaths and demand a separate state of Gorkhaland. Bodies of two of the three individuals killed on Saturday were brought to Chowkbazar in mortuary vans.

From Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed for calm and peace in Darjeeling. “Nobody should resort to violence… Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue,” he tweeted.

Amid tight security arrangements, protesters started to gather at Chowkbazar around 10 am. Over two hundred members of Darjeeling’s Muslim community, and members of other communities, joined the GJM’s peace and solidarity rally. By afternoon, thousands from across the Hills had gathered at Chowkbazar to pay homage to the deceased.

According to the GJM, Bimal Sashankar of Goke Basti, Sunil Rai of Kainjalay and Mahesh Gurung of Relling were killed in police firing, an accusation that the police and state government have denied. Sashankar and Rai were killed in Singmari and Gurung in Ghoom, the GJM claimed.

Rai (23), was married two years ago, and had a six-month-old child. He was the sole breadwinner for his family of his mother, wife and child. Sashankar (28), had an 8-year-old son. He too was his family’s sole breadwinner. Gurung (24), was not married, and has left behind a brother and a sister.

“We do not know how he (Sashankar) was killed. The police are tightlipped. Our family is destroyed,” said Raju, a cousin of Bimal Sashankar.

Muhammed Mushtaq, whose family has lived in Darjeeling for four generations, said, “We want peace in Darjeeling. We have never faced any problems with the Gorkhas, and have been peacefully living side by side. We support Gorkhaland, and we are a part of it.”

Sunita Rani, a housewife, who was seen along with GJM supporters shouting slogans demanding Gorkhaland, said, “Here, it is not about Gorkhas or non-Gorkhas. We are originally from Bihar, but we are now settled here. We do business. This is as much as our land. We too are out in the streets.”

Protesters participating in the march wore black armbands and waved black flags as they chanted slogans for Gorkhaland and justice, and demanding that the police and CRPF be withdrawn from the Hills.

“Police firing killed our brothers. We will not rest until we have Gorkhaland. The fight has just begun. Can you see the number of people who have turned up today to mourn and protest?” said Sonal Chetri, a resident of Darjeeling.

The Internet has been disrupted in Darjeeling and adjoining areas since midnight on Saturday, handicapping protesters who have been using social media to organise. While the police and administration remained tightlipped on the reason for the disruption, GJM supporters alleged it was a way to clamp down on the agitation.

Rajnath Singh tweeted that he had spoken to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in the morning, and she had apprised him of the situation in Darjeeling.

“I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence,” Singh tweeted.

“In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution. Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue… All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment.”

Singh had spoken to Banerjee on Saturday as well, and asked her to take all possible steps to ensure peace returned to the hill station where the GJM, which is in power in the semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, is protesting against the “imposition” of Bengali in schools.

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  1. R
    raja dey
    Jun 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm
    The name Darjeeling comes from the Tibetan words, Dorje (thunderbolt) and (place or land), meaning the land of the thunderbolt. The history of Darjeeling district is linked to that of the Sikkim, East India Company, Nepal and Bhutan. Most of Darjeeling formed a part of dominions of the Chogyal of Sikkim, who had been engaged in an unsuccessful warfare against the Gorkhas of Nepal. From 1780, the Gorkhas made several attempts to capture the entire region of Darjeeling. By the beginning of 19th century, they had overrun Sikkim as far eastward as the Teesta River and had conquered and annexed the Terai. In the meantime, the British were engaged in preventing the Gorkhas from over-running the whole of the northern frontier. The Anglo-Gorkha war broke out in 1814, which resulted in the defeat of the Gorkhas and subsequently led to the signing of the Sugauli Treaty in 1815. According to the treaty, Nepal had to cede all those territories which the Gorkhas had annexed from the Chogyal.
    1. Gopal Das
      Jun 19, 2017 at 9:22 pm
      In WB many people from many states come for a permanent stay. Even in Kolkata, there are more non bengalis than bengalis. If everyone claims separate land, what will happen, Kamtapuri demands for separate land, Ghorkhas demanding separate land. Then there shall be no WB.likewise Kashmir's demanding separate nation even after enjoying more freedom than an Indian by virtue of Article 370. First Subhas Ghising raised Gor nd slogan, he got self rule status, squandered Govt. fund, public money, forced Bank manager's to give loan, which was never repaid. Many a Bank agent lost their jobs on this issue. Now Bimal Gurang came with GJM. Only name change. Darjeeling will not change. Only dirty politics and squandering of public money.If they are really mindful I ask what they are doing to open all the tea garden, what they are doing to develop tourism industry. In Darjeeling they are the majority, no one is going to disturb them. Just to gain chief popularity they are raising Gor nd.
      1. D
        Jun 19, 2017 at 8:59 am
        Illegal migrants from Nepal into Darjeeling are demanding their own state? At this rate parts of Mumbai with Bangladeshi camps will do the same. Stop illegal migration from all neighboring countries. Indian has been too soft on Nepal. all Nepali's should be made to apply for visa before entering India.
        1. K
          K. K.
          Jun 20, 2017 at 10:57 pm
          Yes, visa should be made a requirement and the open border between Nepal and India must be regulated. But the Brown Sahibs of Delhi do not seem to know this need for India.
        2. B
          Bijaya Dixit
          Jun 19, 2017 at 8:51 am
          Free Gurkha Land from Witch Mamata.Unite her with Bangladesh.
          1. K
            Jun 19, 2017 at 8:16 am
            This violent protest should be declared illegal and the leaders be arrested. India has over 200 languages. Does it mean India needs to be divided into 200 states? Illegal migration from Nepal into darjeeling should stop.
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