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India: Thousands rally in support of separatist movement in Darjeeling

Thousands rally in Darjeeling's Chowkbazar on June 18 to denounce violent repression of separatist movements and the deaths of three protesters

TIMEFRAME expected from 6/18/2017, 12:00 AM until 6/19/2017, 11:59 PM (Asia/Kolkata). COUNTRY/REGION Darjeeling (West Bengal)

Event

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) party, which is calling for statehood for ethnic Gorkhas within West Bengal, rallied thousands of demonstrators in Darjeeling's Chowkbazar on Sunday, June 18. Demonstrators marched with the coffins of two of the three men who died in recent clashes with Indian security forces during previous protests.

Further protests and violence are likely in the coming days and most hotels in the area have been closed.

Context

GJM party offices were raided by police on June 15, raising the GJM death toll to three. Approximately 50 civilians have been wounded in riots and arson attacks since separatist unrest broke out in Darjeeling on June 12, after the GJM called for an indefinite general strike (bandh) on June 12.

Violent repression is thought to be an indication that Mamata Banergee, chief minister of West Bengal state, is implementing a blanket ban on separatist activity within the state.

The GJM has called for the creation of a new state, Gorkhaland, and opposes the dominance of the Bengali language in schools across West Bengal.

Advice

Individuals in Darjeeling are advised to monitor the situation, stay away from all demonstrations, and adhere to instructions issued by the local authorities.

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