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SSB ‘affair’ triggers clash, 13 injured

Posted by Ramesh Khati on October 20, 2009

Oct. 19(The Telegraph): An alleged extra marital affair involving a jawan of the Shashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and a woman at a village near the Bhutan border last night triggered a clash between the local people and the guards, who reportedly opened fire.

Thirteen people, including four guards, were injured in the violence at Jhalong, about 120km from here. Although police claimed that the border guards had only fired in the air, unconfirmed reports said at least three residents, including a woman, had been hit by bullets.

Nine villagers are under treatment at Malbazar Subdivisional Hospital. Sources said three of them — Deepak Gurung, Mata Tamang and Dilip Rai, all with suspected bullet injuries — were in a serious condition and had been referred to the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital but were yet to be shifted.

The remaining six under treatment in Malbazar are Ratan Lama, Ranjit Pradhan, Pratik Gurung, Bishnu Lama, Swami Gurung and Sanjoy.

The violence began around 9pm when the jawan, Rakesh Singh, was allegedly found in a compromising position with the woman by her husband. Chased by the irate husband, Singh fled to his outpost nearby.

Soon, many residents gathered in front of the outpost, demanding that Singh be handed over to them. When the guards rejected the demand, the mob allegedly vandalised the SSB’s sentry post and other structures. In retaliation, the SSB personnel resorted to firing in the air, following which a full-fledged clash ensued.

D.P. Singh, the Darjeeling superintendent of police who had gone to the spot, said nine persons, including four guards, were injured in the clash and the jawans had fired in the air. “All the injured have been admitted to the Mal subdivisional hospital.”

However, the officer could not confirm if anyone had been hit by bullets. He added that the woman’s husband had lodged a complaint of rape against the jawan, who was subsequently arrested. “We spoke to the SSB and the local people. The aggrieved party should have gone to the local police station and lodged a complaint, instead of resorting to vandalism.”

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has a strong presence in the hills, has expressed concern about the incident. Morcha spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said a team of party members had been sent from Kalimpong to the spot. “As cellphone coverage is poor, we could not gather more details. We learn that the SSB personnel, instead of guarding the border, fired at our people,” said Chhetri said.

V. B. Thapa, a local unit leader of the Morcha at Jhalong, who could be contacted on his mobile phone in the evening, said: “We will socially boycott the guards and will not sell them any local produce till the accused jawan is punished.”

The SSB could not be contacted.


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