DARJEELING, India, Feb. 13, Reuter: Militant Gurkhas blew up bridges, exploded landmines, set fire to government offices and killed a constable, officials and the Press Trust of India said on Saturday.

Gurkhas, who called a strike to demand autonomy, shut down. Darjeeling and attacked officials defying the stoppage.

In Darjeeling, the former British Hill Station, a government official, Dawa Lama, was shot in the stomach ‘and critically wounded after he ignored warnings from the Gurkha National Liberation Front not to go to his office.

PTI said Liberation Front militants exploded a landmine on Friday 50 miles (80 km) from Darjeeling as a guarded party of repairmen passed through thick jungle to attend to sabotage power lines.

The party was then showered with bullets and one constable was killed.

It was the first death reported since Subhas Ghising, the leader of the Gurkhas, called the 40day strike for Darjeeling and nearby areas last Wednesday.

Ghising has failed to win an agreement on autonomy from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in New Delhi or from the Marxist rulers of West Bengal State.

Gandhi has rejected his demand for full statehood for Gurkhas, whose ancestors came from Nepal.

The agitation for statehood began 22 months ago and has so far claimed 127 lives, according to official estimates. It has also crippled the once booming tourism industry of the Hill Station.

More than 3,000 people have been arrested and militants have set fire to more than 1,000 houses, including 274 government buildings.

Police began a new round of arrests on Friday and said they had seized nearly 60 of Ghising’s supporters who have successfully cut Darjeeling’s road link with nearby Siliguri.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 19, 1988