In what is being flagged as a resurgence of violence in Darjeeling by supporters of fugitive Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung, a young man identified as Chetan Thapa was stabbed in the back on the outskirts of the hill town around 4 pm on Tuesday. He is a supporter of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha faction led by Bimal Gurung's rival Binay Tamang.
In his police complaint filed before he was rushed to hospital in Siliguri, Mr Thapa said the Gurung faction of the party was holding a meeting at a tea garden on the outskirts of the hill town. Several local people had gathered there. Suddenly, people emerged from the meeting, armed with pistols and knives, attacked people gathered there, shouting slogans against the Binay Tamang faction of the GJM.
"Several persons rushed out shouting Bimal Gurung zindabad and took out pistol and kukris and started chasing everyone on the road. One among them stabbed me to kill me and I fell unconscious," Mr Thapa said in his complaint.
In an angry reaction to the incident, Binay Tamang, who is the president of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binoy Tamang), demanded the arrest of the accused named in the First Information report and said, "One of our youth supporters was brutally assaulted by the goons of Bimal Gurung at Tukvar area on the day when Bimal Gurung's people opened their party office illegally as it was an attached property by the court. This attack was aimed to kill the youth but he luckily escaped and is now in the ICU."
Addressing the people of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, Mr Tamang said, "In 2017, I broke away from a party which supported violence and an undemocratic party because I believed in non-violence as envisioned by our father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi. I would like to appeal to the people of hills to stand against such acts of Bimal Gurung's party for disrupting peace in the hills."
Alok Kantamani Thulung, the President of the Darjeeling unit of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binoy Tamang), said, "We had even told Mamata Banerjee that if Bimal Gurung comes back, he will start his bloody politics again. He is the history0sheeter. The administration has to decide whether to allow such a person in the hills or not. He comes to the hills and creates unrest every time. We can't repeatedly keep dousing the fires. We want the administration to take tough measures."
Bimal Gurung, resurfaced in Kolkata on October 21 after three years, swearing allegiance to Mamata Banerjee. His return sparked tension in Darjeeling and people took to the streets, warning that they will not allow him up in the hills as they feared he might trigger violence.
Ms Banerjee, who has not commented on this so far, had called the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders for a meeting on November 3. Binay Tamang had described the talks as fruitful for but claimed that Bimal Gurung's return was not discussed at all.
Bimal Gurung, who is wanted by the police in nearly 150 cases, has been staying at a hotel in Kolkata ever since she resurfaced and there has been no attempt to by the police to arrest him.