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Darjeeling braces for another shutdown; GJM to conduct rally

“Three of our supporters, Sunil Rai, Mukesh Gurung and Bimal Shashankar, died in the police firing”, GJM leader Binay Tamang said.The hill parties, led by the BJP ally GJM, have come together to press for a 100-year-old demand to separate Gorkhaland from the plains of West Bengal, a demand bitterly opposed by Mamata Banerjee.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters in Kolkata that the assistant commandant of the IRB 2nd battalion, Kiran Tamang, was critically injured during the violence. “We had to resort to lathi charge”, a senior police official said.Appealing to all stakeholders to solve the situation through “dialogue and not violence” Mr Singh said, ” In a democracy like India resorting to violence will never help in finding a solution. Rai was granted bail after he was picked from his residence today.Amar Rai said his son has no political affiliations.He said hundreds took to the streets of Darjeeling on Sunday for a silent protest against “police atrocities”, waving India’s tricolour flag and posters calling for peace.Later in the day, the effects of the trouble were felt in Kalimpong’s Gorubathan market where GJM supporters allegedly torched a vehicle of the power supply authority, while the Jaldhaka police station was vandalised. While police claimed that GJM supporters started pelting stones forcing them to retaliate, protesters said that the police stopped their rally and started firing tear gas shells first. Police did not fire rubber bullets or water cannons. The indefinite bandh enforced by the GJM was announced following the aforementioned raid on its Patlebas office.Urging the people in the hills to not listen to the GJM leadership, she also denied reports of police firing. “We can not tolerate this hooliganism”, said Additional Director General (Law & Order) Anuj Sharma.”It was the GJM activists who opened fire”, he said. So much of bombs and fire arms have been imported in that area. “Our supporters were killed by policemen”, he said.When asked about Ahluwalia backing the agitation and whether BJP supported it, Shah said,”It is true that we are in favor of small states”.Gorkhas across the country began uploading blank black photos as their profile picture on Facebook as a mark of protest soon after.”We are Indians and we hope that the Centre will take action to resolve the crisis in the hills”, Alley said.After Saturday’s violence, the ongoing shutdown in the hills has become even more pronounced.The toy-train services of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) have been suspended in view of the strike for the safety of passengers, staff and the property of the DHR.Tamang’s comment comes in the backdrop Banerjee’s claim of “deep-rooted conspiracy” in Darjeeling Hills supported by insurgent groups of the NE for helping the GJM in its demand for a separate Gorkhaland.