Spate of arrests continue in the Hills as police crackdown on GJM
The Sikkim and West Bengal police standoff that had taken place on Friday saw Gorkha Janmukti Morcha central committee member and former nominated member of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabitri Rai being produced at a Namchi Court in Sikkim.
12 others including GJM central committee members were produced at the Siliguri court out of which 6 were taken into police custody.
Sikkim police have alleged that a West Bengal police team in plains clothes had entered Sikkim without informing Sikkim and without any legal documents required in such cases. The Central Committee meeting of the GJM was underway at Seven Hill Resort in Namchi in the South district of Sikkim on Friday when the West Bengal CID team barged in.
Though the main target was to nab Gurung, the GJM President managed to give the police a slip. However some central committee members were arrested by the police. Sources stated that a part of the West Bengal police team left Namchi with most of the arrested.
However the Sikkim police stopped the remaining from returning to the Darjeeling Hills with the others arrested. Among them were Sabitri Rai. Jagdish Singh and Bimal Rai. Jagdish Singh and Bimal Rai both from South Sikkim.
Sikkim sources stated that as the West Bengal police failed to produce any legal documents, 7 police personnel from West Bengal including officers were detained by the Sikkim police. Late at night they were released. Police also released Jagdish Singh and Bimal Rai.
Sabitri Rai was produced at the Namchi Court on Saturday. The West Bengal police had put in a prayer for transit remand. The court however released Savitri on bail.
An incident of shootout had allegedly occurred at Sadam, near Namchi on Thursday afternoon. A dead body was later found by the Sikkim police. The deceased was identified as Dawa Bhutia (34 yrs), from Pedong, Kalimpong. He was the driver of Dawa Lepcha, former GTA sabha member.
The dead body was taken to the Namchi hospital in Sikkim for post mortem. Sikkim police have alleged that during the alleged shootout the Bengal police were present at the spot. "A murder case has been initiated at the Namchi police station against the Superintendent of Police, Kalimpong and his team. Three vehicles including the vehicle of the Kalimpong SP have been seized" stated Pratap Pradhan, SP Sikkim South.
The Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF- ruling party of Sikkim) has condemned the alleged entry of West Bengal police into Sikkim without prior information and valid legal documents. They have thanked the South district police for prompt action but have demanded that all the persons involved be brought to book at the earliest.
Bimal Gurung vehemently criticized Friday's standoff and remarked that the Sikkim Government should thoroughly probe the incident and specially the death. "This clearly shows the extent they can go to and how they misuse power" alleged Gurung on Saturday, talking to media persons over the phone from his hideout.
Meanwhile the West Bengal Government has raised questions as to how Gurung who has been charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act be provided a safe house in Sikkim. The Home Ministry, Government of West Bengal, has shot a letter to their Sikkimese counterpart requesting cooperation in future cases.
Jyoti Rai, GJM Central Committee member claimed that the Central Committee meeting had taken place and the meeting unanimously expelled Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa from all posts and primary membership of the party for announcing the withdrawal of the indefinite bandh without consultation.
Meanwhile 13 others including some GJM Central Committee members were arrested on Friday in connection with different cases of the Darjeeling Hills were also produced at the Siliguri court. The Addition Chief Judicial magistrate Court remanded Dawa Lama, treasurer GJM to police custody along with GJM Central Committee members Shanker Adhikari, Hemant Gautam, Buddha Sharma, Ganesh Sharma and Siddhant Adhikari. The others were sent to judicial custody.
Police today arrested Krishna Limbu Subba, the Chairman of Kurseong Municipality in connection with attempts to torch the Kurseong Government Tourist Lodge. He was produced in a Siliguri court and sent to judicial custody.