Thirty-six-year old Ashok Tamang is the latest casualty in the ongoing unrest in Darjeeling hills. Ashok had suffered injuries in police firing during an agitation on Saturday. He succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday morning at Manipal hospital in the neighbouring Sikkim.
Shanti Tamang (28), Ashok’s neighbour, was with him at the time of the agitation. “Everyone from our colony went for the agitation because we were outraged with Tashi Bhutia’s death. Thousands had turned up — unarmed. Suddenly, the CPRF personnel opened fire. Ashokda dropped to the ground. After a while, I saw four boys pick him up,” she says.
Ashok worked as a janitor for the Darjeeling municipality and lived in a one-room shack in Louis Jubilee Colony. He had lost his wife some years ago and could not afford to maintain his two children — a 14-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son. Ria and Urugen Tamang stay with their 70-year-old grandmother, who lives nearby and works as a cleaner at Dekling Hotel. Both the children attend government-aided schools — Ria goes to Nepali Girls High School, Urugen to Turnbull High School.
Ankita Tamang (20), Ashok’s niece and adopted daughter, says, “He was my father’s brother and adopted me after my parents’ death. He has been more than a father to me,’’ she said.
At Chowk Bazaar, hundreds gathered on Tuesday to agitate for Gorkhaland — the 27 day of their indefinite strike. Ashok’s death was announced and a two-minute silence was observed. Leaders at the rally announced that protesters must now carry khurkis for self-defence. “Mamata’s bullets against our khukris,’’ they said.