One killed, 35 injured in India’s Darjeeling clashes

DARJEELING (AFP) – A man has been killed and dozens of police injured in clashes between Indian police and protesters in Darjeeling, an official said yesterday, as unrest worsens in the hill resort at the height of the tourist season.

Nearly 50 people, mostly police, have been injured in riots and arson attacks that have gripped the usually bustling area for more than a week and caused thousands of mostly Indian tourists to pack their bags and flee.

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.

“A man was killed and at least 35 policemen were injured. Some of them were stabbed in the back,” the Director General of West Bengal state police, Anuj Sharma, told AFP.

One officer who intervened in an arson attack was “seriously wounded after protesters slashed his throat”, Sharma said.

An injured Indian policewoman is helped by colleagues during clashes with supporters of the separatist Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) group in Darjeeling on June 17. - AFP
An injured Indian policewoman is helped by colleagues during clashes with supporters of the separatist Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) group in Darjeeling on June 17. – AFP

The dead man appeared to have been shot but the circumstances were still unclear, Sharma added. Police have denied using live ammunition.

The upswing in violence began when police raided the homes and offices of members of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a separatist movement that has long called for a new state of “Gorkhaland” to be carved out of West Bengal.

The group has accused police of shooting dead three of its members in Saturday’s clashes – a claim which police have strongly denied.