ALSO READArmy deployed in Darjeeling following GJM protest, situation improves Army deployed in Darjeeling as GJM protest turns violent, tourists stranded Gorkhaland: GJM on indefinite strike in Darjeeling, want tourists to leave Darjeeling bandh: Army steps in to restore peace as GJM protests intensify GJM protest: Rallies for separate state, police on high alert in Darjeeling
Singmari area in Darjeeling turned into a battleground today as Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) activists threw petrol bombs and stones at riot police, who in retaliation fired teargas shells and resorted to baton-charge. The incident, in which several people were injured, prompted the administration to deploy army troops in the area. As the indefinite shutdown to demand a separate state entered its third day, GJM activists took out a protest rally from the GJM headquarters in Singmari. As prohibitory orders were in force in the area, the police told the protesters, who were carrying the tricolour and GJM flags, to return. The slogan-shouting protesters did not relent and started throwing stones and bottles at the police.
A vehicle was also set on fire. The police fired teargas shells and baton-charged the agitators. "We asked them to go back but they started throwing stones, bottles and petrol bombs. We had to resort to lathi charge," a senior police official said. Some police personnel and GJM activists were injured in the clash, the police said. A large contingent of police and paramilitary personnel was rushed to the spot under the command of the superintendent of police and other senior IPS officers. Barring pharmacies, all others shops and hotels were closed in Darjeeling. Reacting to today's violence, Tourism Minister Gautam Deb said, "The government will not accept the GJM's hooliganism." GJM leaders said Vikram Rai, son of GJM MLA Amar Rai, was 'picked up' by the police from Darjeeling. Vikram is the in-charge of the GJM's media cell. The police last night raided the residence of senior GJM leader Binay Tamang, following which party activists tried to torch a PWD office in Bijanbari area here.