Army firing in Gorkhaland protest kills 3

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Mumbai/Kolkata: "Amid the fresh agitation for Gorkhaland in the Darjeeling hills, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday accused the Modi government of encouraging the stir and claimed there was a "deep-rooted" conspiracy" behind it.

Darjeeling remained on the edge today as thousands of protesters assembled at the central Chowkbazar carrying the body of a GJM activist, who was killed during clashes with police, and raised slogans demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to Mamata over the law and order situation in Darjeeling where the GJM has been leading a violent protest for seven days now. "The struggle will intensify in the hills".

Banerjee alleged the GJM had connections with the northeast insurgent groups as well as a "foreign" link.

The rally is now ongoing despite the police not giving the GJM supporters the authority to stage one.

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In a video released from an undisclosed location, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung condemned the police firing and called on all Nepali-speaking people of hills and Dooars to mourn June 17 as a "Black day" and tie black armbands in protest against the police firing. "They are stockpiling illegal arms and bombs", she said. Angry GJM members lobbed petrol bombs and stones at the antiriot police personnel. Experts fear the bloodshed might lurch Darjeeling back to the unrest of the 80s, when hundreds of people died as the state government brutally suppressed the movement. "I call upon every Gorkha family to come out against the state administration that has unleashed this repression", Gurung said from an undisclosed location.

Army contingents were deployed to control the situation and they staged flag marches in several areas of the violence-hit hill areas, including Darjeeling and Kurseong.

The Trinamool faced the first political fallout of the agitation when one of its leaders, Gaulan Lepcha, resigned from the party in support of a separate state.

The GJM supporters took out the rally to protest against the police raid at Bimal Gurung's residence and arrest of the GJM MLA Amar Rai's sone Vikram Rai, who is also Morcha's media manager.

Banerjee said she is ready for talks but not under the current situation.

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While maintaining that violence would not serve any objective, he added, "Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue". "Nobody should resort to violence".

West Bengal: With GJM gearing up for a prolonged confrontation with West Bengal government over the Gorkhaland statehood issue, the party's leadership is planning to revive Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) - its "peacekeeping" wing. Many of them were taken to Namchi hospital in South Sikkim for treatment.

They say they used tear gas and baton charges after protesters torched cars and attacked the security forces with knives.

Rajnath Singh said all concerned parties should resolve their differences through dialogue in an amicable environment.

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