Writes: Pramod Giri
Darjeeling district police and West Bengal’s Criminal Investigation Department have started attaching the properties of fugitive Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders, including Bimal Gurung, who led a failed movement aimed at securing a separate state of Gorkhaland.
A three-storeyed house at Patlaybas belonging to Gurung and his wife, Asha, were attached on Wednesday. They also seized some moveable property.
The two were among six people declared as proclaimed offenders by a Darjeeling court on March 29, four months after they failed to appear before it in November 2017. The court ordered the attachment of their properties the same day on a plea filed by the CID, which is investigating the June 2017 violence outside Darjeeling’s Bhanu Dhawan.
The six people – also comprising Roshan Giri, Prakash Gurung, Ashok Chettri and Amrit Yongen – have been charged under the anti-terror law.
On June 8 last year, GJM leaders had organised a demonstration to protest the state’s plan to make Bengali a compulsory subject in all schools. The rally turned violent, and GJM clashed with the police barely 200 metres from Raj Bhavan – where chief minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a cabinet meeting.
The CID took over the investigation on June 29, 2017, even as the Gorkhaland agitation claimed 13 lives and caused a complete shutdown of the hills for 104 days. Gurung and the others absconded after they were charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
“The chief judicial magistrate’s court directed GJM leaders to surrender before it by November 2017, but they did not turn up,” said Darjeeling assistant public prosecutor Pankaj Prasad.
When asked why the police have taken this long to attach Gurung’s property, Darjeeling inspector-in-charge Soumyajit Roy said: “We did it within the stipulated time. The properties of other absconding leaders will also be attached in phases.”
Neither Gurung nor any other GJM leader could be reached for comment. Attempts to identify a lawyer representing Gurung also went in vain. “As far as I know, no lawyer represents Bimal Gurung in the district court,” said Brivor Chettri, a local advocate.