Madan Tamang, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League and a prominent proponent of Gorkhaland, on Friday was fatally stabbed with “khukris” (traditional curved knives), allegedly by supporters of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in Darjeeling.
Mr. Tamang was a senior political personality in the Darjeeling hills and known for his opposition to the GJM. He was among those who met West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan earlier this week, seeking his intervention for “restoration of democracy” in the region.
Mr. Tamang was supervising preparations for a rally to be addressed by him in the morning when he was attacked by a group of persons in the Clubside area even as his supporters clashed with GJM men.
A profusely bleeding Mr. Tamang was taken to a local hospital but he died of his injuries.
The police fired five rounds in the air “to protect” Mr. Tamang and chase away the assailants who climbed the dais, District Magistrate Surendra Gupta told TheHindu over telephone from Darjeeling. Some persons were detained in connection with the incident.
The GJM denied any hand in the killing. “Allegations that the incident was planned by the GJM are baseless. It cannot be blamed for the murder,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
The incident brought life in Darjeeling and rest of the hills to a grinding halt. Shop-owners and other commercial establishments downed their shutters and vehicles went off the roads. Police reinforcements were sent to the hill-town.
Mr. Tamang was among those responsible for setting up recently a seven-party anti-GJM, non-CPI(M) coalition. His strained relations with the GJM soured considerably ever since the latter proposed earlier this year the setting up of an interim administrative set-up for the region till its demand for a Gorkhaland state is met.
Expressing his “deep sense of shock and sorrow” at the “gruesome murder,” the Governor, who is in Darjeeling, said the attack “can only be regarded as an attack on the democratic forces.” He condemned the politics of violence. “This state of affairs will not be allowed to continue” a release issued by the Governor's Secretariat in Darjeeling said.
The State government has sought an inquiry into the incident. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee reviewed the developments with senior officials and the local administration was asked to take immediate steps to arrest those responsible for the murder as well as ensure that the situation in the hills remained stable.