INDIA: Fact-Finding Report by MASUM on the Gorkhaland agitations

A Fact-finding report by MASUM forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) conducted a high level fact finding in Darjeeling and adjoining areas to assess the situation at Darjeeling hills after the agitation for separate statehood and the subsequent police atrocities upon the agitators. This report is only a primary one to inform the stakeholders about the continuous infringement of constitutional safeguards and intense subjugation of a large section of citizens demanding separate statehood; which is legitimate in our constitutional as well as international human rights doctrines. We will come up with a detailed report very soon.

The impasse broke when the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) and other organizations demanded for separate statehood and resorted in violent protests all over the hills. The state government of West Bengal refused to initiate proper dialogue with the agitators but on other hand acted severely on the agitation. Our fact-finding team came to know that three persons were killed in police firing near Singamari Police Town Out Post under Sadar Police Station on 17.05.2017. The deceased were 1. Sunil Rai; son of Mr. Sukbahadur Rai; aged about 31 years and carpenter by profession 2. Mahesh Gurung; son of Mr. Kharka Bahadur Gurung; aged about 25 years and 3. Bimal Sasankar; son of Mr. Sasbahadur Sasankar. The Superintendent of Darjeeling District Hospital refused to share the information related to findings of medical officer upon the bodies of the deceased.

It was reported that on 17.06.2017 at around 11.00 am, a rally reached at Singmari outpost, the rally was attended by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha(GJMM) supporters from different areas of Darjeeling hills. A large number of police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel were deputed there. Peaceful rally of GJMM started at about 10 AM. Police tried to obstruct the rally. Without any provocation, police first lathi charged then fired tear gas shells to disperse the rally. Then tension arose. Two vehicles were stopped and torched. Police started firing from 11 am which continued till about 2.00 pm. At the time, the deceased Mahesh Gurung was at the rooftop of Mr. Kiran Dong’s house, he received the bullet at rooftop and was alive for a while but nobody rescued him, after long the CRPF personnel brought down the body of Gurung. In retaliation, the GJMM supporters torched 7 vehicles in front of GJMM office at North Point Darjeeling, as alleged; but the Morcha supporters claimed that the police / TMC supporters themselves torched their vehicles to defame the agitation.

The team met Ms. Dhanmaya Tamang; wife of Late Rambahadur Tamang, aged 68 years, a supporter of women wing of GJMM, who has been admitted at bed no. 69 of Darjeeling District Hospital brought from Darjeeling district jail (Correctional Home) vide Darjeeling District Correctional Home Office Memo No. 1210 dated 28.6.2017 sent to District Hospital, Darjeeling. She was under treatment of Dr. Pranab Bhattacharjee. She was apprehended by the Inspector in Charge of Darjeeling Police Station on 09.06.2017 at around 3.30 AM while she was sleeping with her grandson, without any female police officer. During her arrest,the arresting party did not issue any memo of arrest. She was physically tortured in police custody and sent to correctional home through court, from where she was referred to hospital on 28.06.2017. It was also reported that Ms. Tamang was shifted from the hospital to Siliguri Sub-Correctional Home which is far away from her residence on 30.06.2017 without informing her family members. She is still languishing in Siliguri Sub-Correctional Home.

The fact-finding team also visited Namchi District Hospital in Sikkim; where the team met three persons in Male Surgical Ward who received gunshot injuries and admitted at the said hospital. Two victims out of three were present during the protest at Singamari on 17.06.2017 and received bullets. One of them Mr. Ranot Sunuwar was shot near Ghum. All of them stated before team that they received gun-shot injuries to their respective bodies de to the firing of police in uniform.

Mr. Lalit Niroula; son of Late Bhim Niroula of Mirik, by profession business received bullets just beneath his right knee and left foot at Singmari on 17th June 2017 at around 11 am. At that time, he was trying to rescue one injured person at the protest site. He primarily received medical attention at Mirik Hospital but later shifted to Namchi District Hospital in Sikkim due to imminent threats from the West Bengal police. According to statement of victim he was carried on one local bamboo made stretcher for about 80 kms on foot.

Mr. Sudesh Gurung; son of Mr. Durga Bahadur Gurung, aged about 25 years of Gumtar Bijanbari was present during the protest at Singmari on 17thJune 2017. While the posted police and CRPF personnel fired from the rooftop at around 1.30 pm, the victim received bullet injuries on the upper portion of his left hand. He was rescued by one of his village brothers and admitted at Darjeeling District Hospital, where the bullet has been removed. He spent a day at the hospital but when he found out that the police were visiting the hospital in search of the injured, he fled from the said hospital and got admitted to the Namchi District Hospital in Sikkim.

Mr. Ranot Sonwar; son of Mr. Jagat Sunwar; aged 30 years from Mim Tea Estate of Sukhia Pokhri was attending a GJMM protest march at Ghum area on 17,06.2017 demanding a separate Gorkhaland. At around 11 am he received bullet on his lower abdomen. The CRPF personnel fired at the time in between Ghum and Check post. He was initially admitted to Sukhia Pokhri Hospital where the bullet was removed but the very next day he was asked to leave the hospital. On 25.06.2017 he was admitted to the Namchi Hospital in Sikkim.

The team visited the District Magistrate office, Darjeeling and tried to talk with the DM, whose office informed us that she was busy. The team then met with the ADM and a Deputy Magistrate. But everyone refused to talk about the matter. The fact-finding team also visited Sadar police station, met Inspector –in-Charge Mr. Soumyajit Roy, Sub Inspectors Ram Bahadur Mukhia and Avijit Biswas. The team asked for information regarding the police arrests, police cases, damages to public property and names of the injured police personnel. At first they agreed to provide this information but ultimately refused .

The fact-finding team visited the houses of the victims of extra judicial killings by police firing on 17 June 2017. They spoke with the family members, eye witnesses and took the relevant documents / records.The team also talked with supporters, leader of GJMM and documented their views. The team also documented the details of loss and damage to the vehicles.

Ms. Sima Gurung, aunt and eye witness to the killing of Mahesh Gurung(who died at Lebong Army Hospital, Darjeeling) submitted written complaint to the police of Sadar Police Station for an FIR to be registered. But according to document we have perused, the police recorded the complaint in a manner which went against the victim.

Our fact finding team met all the three victims who were treated at Namchi district hospital and got their statements. The team also visited Lebong Army Hospital (163) where Sunil Rai died. When the team asked the time and cause of death of Sunil Rai to Mr. Amit Kumar, Naik Subedar and Dr Navin Sharma, Commanding Officer of the Lebong Army Hospital, both refused to speak.

The West Bengal Government has banned all internet services in Darjeeling District from 17 June 2017. First order of internet blockage was issued from NABANNA, State government secretariat. Then the subsequent follow up blockage orders were issued by District Magistrate of Darjeeling district dated 21 June 2017; 26 June 2017 and so on. The District administration also imposed unauthorized censorship upon the local media. Local media has been stopped to air local news by the order of District Magistrate, Darjeeling.

Such actions clearly show that the police and civil administration intentionally violated the norms and statutory obligations at the time of arrest, police firing, judicial custody and dishonored the Indian Constitution. People who are interested to view the video footages, can visit –

Therefore, these are our primary findings:

1. The West Bengal Government has waged an all-out war against the agitating populace of Darjeeling hills
2. GJMM openly announced that they are loyal to the Government of India and to the Indian Constitution
3. Actions taken by the government are against the Article 1 of ICCPR and ICESCR
4. The police did not warn the mob before firing
5. The District Administration and the special Police administration constituting four senior Indian Police Service officers, on behest of the West Bengal State Government, flouted National Human Rights Commission’s Guidelines on Death Due to Police Actions.
6. The government and its administration infringed the constitutional guarantee under Article 19 of Indian Constitution and summarily banned the internet services, and prevented the media from airing the news
7. The police administration is refusing to register First Information Report (FIR); which is out rightly illegal. (ref: Ms. Seema Gurung; aunt of Mahesh Gurung (deceased) made a complaint to the Darjeeling Police Station but the police refused to register it as an FIR)

Hence, we demand the following:

1. The series of incidents must be investigated by investigating team of NHRC
2. The demand of Gorkhaland is a political demand and problems the arise from the movement should be discussed politically
3. The violation of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution be treated seriously
4. The Guidelines laid down by NHRC on Death Due to Police Actions must be followed in true spirit and violators in uniform should be booked
5. Victims of extra judicial killings and torture, inhuman and degrading treatment be duly compensated
6. The police and CRPF personnel who have committed crimes must be punished after an independent investigation
7. These investigations cannot be carried out by the police of West Bengal


The views shared in this statement do not necessarily reflect that of the AHRC. Minor edits have been made to the report.