Protest vi­o­lence flares again in In­dia’s Dar­jeel­ing

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

MUM­BAI: Two peo­ple have been killed as fresh vi­o­lence erupted in In­dia’s Dar­jeel­ing hills in protests over the killing of a mem­ber of an eth­nic mi­nor­ity, po­lice said yes­ter­day.

The re­gion’s Nepali-speak­ing Gorkha com­mu­nity has since last month held protests de­mand­ing a sep­a­rate state, Gorkha­land, within In­dia to pro­tect their Hi­malayan cul­ture. They have reg­u­larly clashed with the po­lice. Seven civil­ians have died while dozens of se­cu­rity per­son­nel have been in­jured.

The east­ern state of West Ben­gal, where the tea-grow­ing re­gion of Dar­jeel­ing is lo­cated, had de­ployed troops to keep the peace for the sec­ond time in three weeks, an army spokesman said.

The killing on Fri­day of 31-year old Tashi Bhutia, a sup­porter of the Gorkha Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front – one of the two po­lit­i­cal par­ties lead­ing the protest – led to an es­ca­la­tion of the vi­o­lence in the tourist town.

A se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer in Dar­jeel­ing said Bhutia might have been killed by cross­fire when se­cu­rity forces were at­tacked.

The of­fi­cer did not wish to be named.

The protesters also torched Son­ada rail­way sta­tion – a Unescol­isted her­itage site – while spo­radic in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence in var­i­ous other parts of the town en­sued.

The un­rest in the re­gion has also hurt it eco­nom­i­cally, with trade and busi­ness com­pletely shut down and dis­rupt­ing ex­ports of the “sec­ond flush” tea crop, one of the world’s most ex­pen­sive teas ex­clu­sively pro­duced in Dar­jeel­ing.

At least 1 200 peo­ple died dur­ing the first Gorkha­land protests in the 1980s. – Reuters

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