Union minister S S Ahluwalia today called for a “high-level” probe into the alleged police firing in Darjeeling in which three people were killed and demanded compensation from the state government for the victims’ families. The BJP MP from Darjeeling termed as “unpardonable” the firing on unarmed people who were protesting peacefully and asked if all other steps to control the agitation were used under the law before giving the firing orders. “The killing of unarmed protesters is unpardonable. There should be high-level probe into the incident. There should be action against the officials who are responsible for the deaths,” he told reporters at a press conference here.
Ahluwalia said three people were killed in the police firing on Saturday. He accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of not taking cognisance of the incident and “not even expressing condolence” over the incident or help the family of the deceased. “She should behave like a chief minister of the state, not a TMC (Trinamool Congress) leader,” he said.
Security forces are patrolling the streets and an internet ban is in effect in Darjeeling, where people, mainly Gorkhas, are protesting for a separate Gorkhaland. An all-party meet convened by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will also chalk out the “next course of action” as the indefinite shutdown crippled normal life in the district for the sixth consecutive day today.
Ahluwalia alleged that the present crisis in Darjeeling was triggered after West Bengal chief minister said that Bengali would become mandatory in schools there. He claimed that a large section of Nepali and Santhali speaking population of Darjeeling have reservations over the move.
Terming as “violation of human rights” a ban on use of internet, the BJP MP said the ban was adversely impacting the students, particularly those preparing for competitive examinations, and small traders, among others. He alleged that Banerjee was filing FIRs against the entire population of Darjeeling and whoever said that “I am Gorkha and I am fighting for my identity”.
Asked why he has not visited Darjeeling, he said, “When I am speaking from here (Delhi), Bannerjee is saying that central ministers are fanning the violence, think what she would say if I go there.”
Asked about the BJP’s stand on the demand for separate state of Gorkhland, Ahluwalia said, “The BJP promised in its election manifesto of 2014 that it will sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region. We stand by it.”
He said that it is a 110-year-old demand and a solution cannot be delivered overnight. “There is a procedure that has to be followed and the West Bengal government should prepare a political environment for the purpose,” he added.
Ahluwalia said that it seems, Bannerjee has forgotten that she was dealing with Gorkhas, who are known for their valour and loyalty. “It was shameful that Banerjee and her administration has treated them like insurgents and terrorists, choosing to use live bullets instead of using other way and means to control the crowd,” he said.