Bengal bids adieu to SI slain in Darjeeling

Kolkata: West Bengal on Saturday bid a tearful adieu to Police Sub-Inspector Amitava Malik, who was shot dead during a gunfight between security forces and the Bimal Gurung faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Darjeeling.

A gun salute was paid to Malik at his last rites held in his home district of North 24 Parganas on Saturday.

The body of the slain police officer was flown in here from Bagdogra for performing the last rites on Saturday morning amid the presence of senior police officials and state ministers.

State Education Minister Partha Chatterjee, Food & Supplies Minister Jyotipriyo Mullick and Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkaystha were present at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here, and accompanied the body to Malik’s residence in North 24 Pargana’s Madhyamgram.

The last rites were performed at the Nimtala crematorium.

Malik’s wife was inconsolable and clung on to the body shrouded in a white sheet and hugged him for one last time. The 28-year-old police officer got married in April this year.

She held on to the coffin till the very end while his mother, Ganga, lost consciousness on seeing her son’s body.

In heart-wrenching moments streaming across television channels and the web, Purkaystha was seen consoling the young widow as she sobbed and continued murmuring, “I was married for seven months. Amar shob sesh” (Everything is over for me).”

“SI Amitava Malik laid down his life in the line of duty at Darjeeling during a gunfight with armed miscreants. We are deeply shocked on such untimely death of an young braveheart. Also feel proud of him for his courage & leadership at the same time. Salute. RIP, Amitava,” West Bengal Police tweeted.

Neighbours and well-wishers poured in to express solidarity with the bereaved family.

The local councillors, school teachers and class mates of Malik and thousands of residents gathered at the venue to pay their last respects.

The mood was somber too in the Kalimpong police station where Malik was posted for the last six months.

“We stay prepared for such situations but losses like this are always very sad. All the police personnel here are crying,” said an inconsolable colleague of Malik.

He had joined the state police force in 2014.

Police stations across the state observed a one-minute silence at 4 p.m. in mourning.

Meanwhile, combing operations to find GJM chief Bimal Gurung continued for the second consecutive day in the forests of Darjeeling, police said.

Malik was killed on Friday while four other police personnel were injured in forested area during a raid to catch the GJM chief Gurung close to his residence in Darjeeling’s Patlebas.

The Darjeeling police conducted a raid in the area following specific inputs that Gurung was camping on the river bed below Lepcha Bustee along with boys of GJM’s militant wing Gorkhaland Personnel, Darjeeling’s Superintendent of Police Akhilesh Chaturvedi said.

Police recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from the camp and arrested one person but the GJM chief and his associates managed to flee to the neighbouring state of Sikkim, police claimed.