50 injured in clashes, GJM calls for 24-hr bandh

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Siliguri, Apr 9 (UNI) Nearly 50 people, including Siliguri DSP Pradip Kumar Dutta and other police personnel, were today injured in clashes between pro-Gorkhaland supporters, comprising ex-servicemen and securitymen, at Darjeeling More here.

To protest police lathicharge and tear gas shelling on the ex-servicemen, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has called for a 24-hour Darjeeling bandh tomorrow.

The injured, including 25 policemen and 15 ex-Army personnel, were shifted to different government and Army hospitals.

Official sources said a 7,000-strong group of ex-Army personnel had taken out a rally in support of the GJM and separate Gorkhaland state. However, they did not obtain the necessary permission for the procession.

When the police tried to stop them, the agitators broke through the barricades and attacked the policemen, injuring 25 of them.

In retaliation police used lathis then lofted tear gas shells to disperse the mob resulting in injuries among the protesters.

GJM president Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri, reacting to the police action, called for a 24-hour Darjeeling bandh tomorrow.

Some Naxalite outfits, including the Kamtapur Peoples' Party and Greater Coochbehar Democratic Party, also extended their support to the bandh.

Mr Gurung told a news conference that police lofted seven gas canisters and wielded random batons on the ex-servicemen. Of the injured, two were shifted to Army hospital with critical wounds, he added.

He said from April 14 onwards, the GJM activists would picket all the government offices in the hills to intensify the movement for Gorkha state in the Darjeeling region.

Meanwhile, reports of clashes were coming in from the hills as some offices of the CPI(M) had been attacked by the GJM supporters.

A report said three attacks were reported at the CPI(M) offices in Kurseong this evening.

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