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'Toy train' station torched after Gorkhaland supporter found dead in Darjeeling; Army deployed

By Chennabasaveshwar

Two Army columns comprising around 100 personnel were deployed on Saturday following violence in Kurseong and Sonada towns of Darjeeling district. A group of people torched Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR)- Toy train- station at Sonada town after a Gorkhaland supporter was allegedly killed in police firing today.

People raise slogans as they participate in a mass rally to demand for separate state of 'Gorkhaland' in Darjeeling. PTI file photo

The historic toy train is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow-gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling.

Earlier, the deceased Gorkhaland supporter was identified as Tashi Bhutia. Locals alleged that he was murdered, reports ANI. The supporter was allegedely killed as the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland entered its 24th day today.

Though the GJM, which is spearheading the agitation, and other hill parties said Tashi Bhutia had been shot by the police in the early hours of the morning at Sonada area, police officials denied receiving reports of any firing.

"We don't have any reports of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details in the afternoon," a police official said.

The incident happened when Tashi Bhutia was on his way back home at Sonada at around 12.30 AM, GJM sources said. The GJM and other hill parties have lodged a police complaint accusing the police of killing the youth.

The GJM will take out a rally with the body in the Chowkbazar area of Darjeeling later in the day.

Yesterday rallies and protest marches were taken out in various parts of Darjeeling in support of their demand for a separate state. All parties of Darjeeling hills decided to continue with the indefinite shutdown.

A six-hour-long meeting had witnessed an intense debate on whether to continue the bandh, which started on June 15 for a separate Gorkhaland state, before deciding to carry on with it.

The police and security forces are patrolling the streets and keeping a vigil at the entry and exit routes.

(With agency inputs)

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