Aug. 4: Around 100 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were stopped when they tried to conduct a march in Siliguri this morning with the body of Mangal Singh Rajput who had set himself on fire last week demanding Gorkhaland.
The activists were stopped near Darjeeling More, the entrance to Siliguri, and asked to head towards Kalimpong where the Morcha supporter lived.
Mangal, a 40-year-old resident of the Dr. Graham’s Homes area, died of burns in a private nursing home in Siliguri yesterday evening.
He had set himself on fire at Dambar Chowk in Kalimpong on Tuesday.
This morning, Morcha supporters along with party leaders Ramesh Alley, P. Arjun and Shankar Adhikari assembled at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri to take Mangal’s body.
The body was sent from the private nursing home to the NBMCH for the post-mortem.
After the body was handed over to the Morcha supporters, the hearse, followed by several cars, headed towards Kalimpong via NH31.
Around 11.40am, the convoy stopped near Darjeeling More and Morcha activists started shouting “Mangal Singh amar rahe” (Long Live Mangal Singh) and “We want Gorkhaland.”
Some Morcha supporters came out of the cars, and said the hearse and the convoy would enter Siliguri through Hill Cart Road.
“We have substantial supporters in localities like Pradhannagar and other areas of Siliguri. Rajput is a martyr of the Gorkhaland movement which is why we felt it was necessary that the supporters should have the honour of paying their last respect to him,” Alley said.
Policemen deployed in the area informed the Siliguri metropolitan police.
Darjeeling More at the heart of Siliguri town is under its jurisdiction.
Sources said Morcha supporters blocked the junction of NH31 and Hill Cart Road for around 20 minutes demanding to enter Siliguri.
“They asked for permission to enter Siliguri. But we requested them to be peaceful and head towards Salugara along NH31. They understood the situation and the hearse along with the cars headed towards Kalimpong (through NH31),” said K. Jayaraman, the commissioner of Siliguri metropolitan police.
The highway that goes up to Kalimpong meets Hill Cart Road, which leads to Siliguri, near Darjeeling More.
The convoy also stopped at Rambhi and Lohapul, on the outskirts of Siliguri, on the way.
The hearse reached Kalimpong around 4.30pm where hundreds of Morcha supporters lined up on both sides of the Main Road shouting slogans.
Mangal’s body would be kept at Dambar Chowk in the town tonight.
According to Morcha sources, party president Bimal Gurung is likely to visit Darjeeling tomorrow to pay his last respect to Mangal.
A funeral procession would be taken out tomorrow and Mangal’s last rites would be performed at the cemetery in Dr. Graham’s Homes area, party leaders said.