Absconding Hill leader wanted in Arms case surfaces before Kolkata talks
Darjeeling, August 29, 2017: Causing utter discomfort for the Police, former Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader wanted in connection with the Assam arms haul case, believed to be absconding, surfaced in Darjeeling on Monday. He has also issued strictures that under no condition should the demand of Gorkhaland be compromised at the Hill talks in Nabannya, the West Bengal State Secretariat to be held at 4pm today.
Thulung's sudden appearance comes at a time when the Hills have been rocked by a series of blasts at different locations including police stations, giving rise to the speculation of a hardliner group trying to send across a strong message. The police claim that he is not in Darjeeling.
Talking to a group of reporters from a secret location in Darjeeling on Monday, Thulung in his late 30s warned "Those who have gone to attend the Kolkata talks should speak on the agenda of Gorkhaland alone. If they deviate they will have to face consequences."
Thulung seems to have echoed GJM President Bimal Gurung's statement which he had dispatched to media persons in the form of a recording from an undisclosed location. Gurung too had stated that the Hill leaders will have to talk on Gorkhaland alone at the Nabbanya meeting else they will not be allowed to return to the Hills.
Waving off allegations made by the State Government of Nepal Maoist and North Eastern Militant links with the present Gorkhaland movement, Thulung stated "We do not need outside help. We are capable by ourselves. During the 1980s we had launched a violent agitation on our own. Time is ripe for the Government to pay serious heed to our demand" retorted Thulung.
Going a step further, Thulung stated that there is a conspiracy to derail the Gorkhaland agitation. "In this case we will be compelled to launch a revolution" warned Thulung.
Incidentally former Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member of the Tukdah-Glenburn constituency Sanjay Thulung alias Sanjay Rai is wanted by both the Darjeeling police and the Darjeeling police in connection with the Assam Arms case. On Monday he declared that he has been falsely implicated in the Arms case.
"There is a warrant in the name of Thulung is Assam. If he was in Darjeeling he would have been arrested. He is not in Darjeeling" claimed Akhilesh Chaturvedi, Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling.
On November 8, 2014, along with some incriminating documents and cash of Rs 10,000, the Assam Police had recovered an M-16 rifle, two Beretta pistols, three .32 pistols, 300 rounds of 9 mm pistol, 80 rounds of AK series assault rifles, 198 rounds ammunitions of M-16 and 60 rounds of .32 pistol from a vehicle bearing West Bengal registration Number (WB74A 4788) travelling from Dimapur in Nagaland to West Bengal.
One Ganesh Chettri (53), resident of Baksa district of Assam along with Umesh Kami (29) of Lankapara, Alipurduar District of West Bengal were arrested from the vehicle. They had named Sanjay Thulung alias Sanjay Rai in connection with the case. Thulung who was the Vice President of Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha has been absconding since then. He was expelled by the GJM after he was implicated in the Assam case.
As per intelligence sources Thulung had procured the Tata Safari (WB74A4788) for Rs. 14 lakhs in Kami's name. Incidentally Kami, a Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP- voluntary force affiliated to the GJM) had got acquainted with Thulung in 2012.
He had personally visited Nagaland and allegedly procured the consignment for Rs. 15 lakhs. The duo had specially modified the Tata Safari in Nagaland to accommodate the hidden chamber in which the arms were smuggled. Thulung had struck a deal with Kami and had assured him a payment of Rs. 50,000/- per consignment delivered.
Thulung had further promised Kami that after delivery of 2 to 3 more consignments, the Tata Safari would be given to Kami. Thulung had then returned to Darjeeling. As per plans Kami started from Dimapur with the consignment. The other person Ganesh Chettri was scheduled to join him in Assam. The consignment was to be delivered to Rai at Champasari on the fringes of Siliguri.
On November 8, the SSB had received a tip off regarding the consignment and laid a trap at Chapaguri, Bongaigaon near the Assam-West Bengal border. Chirang (Assam) SP Ranjan Bhuiyan along with a large police contingent, SSB and the CRPF managed to nab the vehicle along with Kami before Kami reached the rendezvous point where Chettri was scheduled to join him.
The police then forced Kami to give a call to Chettri asking Chettri to join him. When Chettri arrived, he too was nabbed by the police. After two hours of frantic search the police could not locate the hidden chamber. The SP then ordered to cut open the chassis of the vehicle with gas cutters. Kami then had shown him the hidden chamber inside which the arms were present.
Chhetri is a member of a militant outfit called the United Gorkha People's Organisation, based in Assam. Assam police claimed that the consignment was to be delivered to Thulung.
During interrogation the two had revealed that 15 Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP, a voluntary force affiliated to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) along with others had undergone 14 days arms training in Nagaland in 2013 with the intention of launching an armed movement for separate state of Gorkhland, under the banner of Gorkha Liberation Army (GLA.) Thulung had allegedly paid Rs. 13.3 Lakhs for the training.
The duo had further revealed that members of the banned militant outfit of Nagaland - the NSCN had held a number of meetings in Darjeeling Hotels.
The Darjeeling police had then started a fresh case against the two accused -Umesh Kami and Ganesh Chettri at the Rungli Rungliot police station in the Darjeeling sub division. One rifle, ammunition and incriminating documents have also been recovered from an area known as 27th Mile under the Rungli Rungliot police station in Darjeeling. A case was then initiated at Rungli Rungliot.
The others named in the Rungli Rungliot FIR in connection with the arms case and for allegedly having undergone arms training include Sanjay Thulung, Vijay Thulung, Raju Gurung, Shen Singh Rai, Milon Subba, Mikki, Ram Singh Rai, Sajeep Gurung and Rahul Chettri.
A CID team from West Bengal investigating a similar arms haul case (in which automatic, semi-automatic arms including ammunition had been recovered from Phulbari check post in the Jalpaiguri district on January 30, 2014) had gone to Assam to interrogate the duo.
During interrogation the two admitted that they were involved in the Phulbari arms haul incident also and that earlier too they had delivered a number of arms consignment in Darjeeling.
Interrogation of the duo by the CID had revealed that they had delivered a number of arms consignments to Darjeeling earlier. The arms had been procured from Dimapur, Nagaland. In Darjeeling the arms were stacked in the house of one Sanjiv Gurung of Tukvar, 10km from Darjeeling town. Incidentally Sanjiv Gurung is absconding.
On November 17, 2014 while launching a man hunt for Thulung the police along with the CRPF recovered a similar Tata Safari from Patleybash (above Malidhura) 8 km from Darjeeling town which the police believe had been used to smuggle in arms.
On November 2, 2016, 36 year old Vijay Thulung the brother of Sanjay Thulung was arrested from Jorebungalow, 8 km from Darjeeling town. Bijay is also implicated in the arms case.