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Featured Image: ASI Amitabh Mallick in a file photo.

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 13 October: A sub-inspector (SI) of police has been shot dead and four policemen are injured after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung’s supporters opened fire on cops at Limbu Bustee below Patlibas about 10 km from Darjeeling town.

Patlibas is the area where GJM’s headquarters and Gurung’s house is located. In the wee hours on 6 October, Gurung supporters had dug up at three places the Darjeeling-Jorethang-Sikkim road that passes through the area.

Information available at this point in time suggests that a Gurung supporter has also been killed and seven automated AK-47 rifles loaded with cartridges have been seized by police from the spot.

The clashes took place between 5 am to 10 am this morning when, acting on a tip-off that Gurung is hiding at Limbu Bustee, a large police team raided the forested area. Gurung is wanted by police for violence and terror activities in Darjeeling Hills since early June and has been absconding since.

Finding the police team closing in on them, Gurung supporters opened fire. Police retaliated with a counter firing. In the exchange of bullets, SI Amitava Malik (27) and four other policemen suffered bullet injuries. They were rushed in to the Darjeeling Sadar police station, where Malik has been declared dead on arrival.

Police sources claimed that those who opened fire on police included Gurung and his close aides Praveen Subba and Prakash Gurung. Prakash is believed to be the key man who have been planning and executing the unrest in Darjeeling Hills for the past four months.

The trio, along with some 30-odd armed GJM cadres, has managed to flee from the spot using a dense forested terrain. Police are continuing the search to track them down.

Binay Tamang, Gurung’s rival in GJM who has been appointed chairman of semi-autonomous GTA by the state government, said that he has information that Gurung and 30-40 of his armed supporters had entered at Limbu Bustee two days ago and they were planning to launch an attack on police in Darjeeling town.

“It is sad that a policeman and a young boy have died because of Gurung. Those breaking the law and absconding should be dealt with firmly,” said Tamang, who has now flown down to Kolkata with aide Anit Thapa, for a meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at 5 pm today.

Speaking to reporters over the phone, Gurung had yesterday said that he is likely to come to Darjeeling on 30 October and had urged the Hill people to hit the streets in lakhs in support of Gorkhaland statehood.