Cop injured in clashes, GJM claims 3 fatalities

Security personnel in large numbers were deployed in the hill district of West Bengal after widespread clashes between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists and the police were witnessed on Saturday. Leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said Vikram Rai, son of GJM MLA Amar Rai, was picked up by the police. "He is not dead". "She has apprised me of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling", he said.

"Two persons have been detained so far in the incident", Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, the superintendant of police of Darjeeling district said. Sources said that he was attacked with khukri from behind while he was trying to stop burning down a police vehicle during clashes between the security forces and Gorkha activists.

As the violence escalated sharply on Saturday, a man died in clashes as protesters torched cars and set upon police with knives, who responded with tear gas and baton charges.

On GJM supporters setting fire to several government offices and damaging water supply lines, the chief minister expressed concern over keeping up the supply of provisions to the hills.

However, the state administration rejected GJM's claim, and stated that the police never opened fire on any of their supporters.

Additional Director General (Law & Order) Anuj Sharma and Banerjee denied charges of police firing on protesters.

Earlier in the day, Morcha protestors resorted to fresh violence after the police raided and allegedly vandalised the residence of Assistant General Secretary of Morcha Binay Tamang on Friday night.

Several police personnel were injured in the stoning.

Activists of the GJM, spearheading the agitation demanding a separate state since June 8, took out a protest rally from the party headquarters in Singmari.

Meanwhile, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said: "Gorkhas are facing a lot of torture. I'll be with the people of the hills and can't ignore the aspiration and voice for the separate state that is echoing in every nook of the towns and villages", he wrote in his resignation letter.

Asked whether the state government was open to talks with the GJM, the chief minister said, "We have discussed so many times".

However, GJM supporters violated the orders and took a procession.

The immediate trigger for the June 17 protests, however, were alleged "police atrocities" on GJM workers, some of them women, arrested over the past few days. The current chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had also backed it when his party was in the opposition.

GJM activists also blocked roads and staged demonstrations at many places in the Dooars - foothills covering parts of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts - in support as the agitation in the hills spilled onto the plains.

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