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India Darjeeling protesters clash with police

indiaProtesters hurled petrol bombs as they clashed with police in eastern India’s hill resort of Darjeeling as tensions remained high Thursday, local officials said.

Riots and arson attacks in Darjeeling last week left at least 12 people injured as thousands of mostly Indian tourists packed their bags and fled.

“The current situation is very tense but under control,” Akhilesh Kumar Chaturvedi, superintendent of Darjeeling police told AFP by phone.

The clashes happened after the local police raided an establishment “linked to” the leader of the local protest movement, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), to recover a “cache of arms.”

“More than 300 weapons including firearms were seized… We suspect the weapons were hidden to create trouble,” Director General of West Bengal police Anuj Sharma told AFP.

“A mob fired and attacked us with petrol bombs as we were returning from the raid. We used batons and fired tear gas shells to control the crowd, and several policemen were also injured in the process,” Chaturvedi added.

The police also blamed the protesters for setting fire to a local news crew vehicle and a government bus.

Many locals and activists led by the GJM have long been demanding the creation of a new Indian state.

The GJM wants a new state named Gorkhaland in the hill region, currently part of the eastern West Bengal state.

Tensions have risen over a recent decision to introduce the state’s Bengali language in schools. Indigenous Gorkhas, who mainly speak Nepali, are furious.

“We have called for an indefinite general strike in Darjeeling,” GJM’s Roshan Giri told AFP.

The otherwise bustling hill station looked deserted Thursday with roads empty and shops closed.

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