Thursday, August 06, 2009

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha patrol stays off highway to Sikkim

Kalimpong, Aug. 5: The Gorkhaland Personnel was today conspicuous by its absence along the 32-kilometre stretch from here to Rangpo on the Sikkim border where 24 hours ago they had stopped cars on NH31A to search for liquor and drugs.

The Telegraph toured the route from 11am to 4pm, but did not come across any GLP patrols today. The local people and the police at Melli and Rangpo said there were no pickets in the area at all.

Yesterday, K.L. Tamta, the inspector-general of police, north Bengal, had said action would be taken against the GLP if its members stopped cars along the highway. He had said the GLP was not authorised to conduct searches on private vehicles and the uniformed youths of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha would be booked for obstructing roads, wrongful confinement and extortion.

Kipa Tshering Bhutia, the leader of a GLP patrol at Third Mile, when contacted over his cellphone said he and his team were at their base camp in an undisclosed location. “We were told not to come out today, that is all I can say,” Bhutia said.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the Morcha spokesperson, said only the chief of the GLP, Colonel (retired) Ramesh Allay would be able to say about the cell’s activities. Repeated attempts to contact the GLP’s in-charge proved to be futile.

However, Morcha sources said a decision had been taken to not go in for any confrontation with the police on NH31A. But Morcha leaders claimed that the GLP was checking the smaller roads that connect the Darjeeling hills to Sikkim.

“The smuggling of liquor usually takes place through the smaller roads and trails that connect the Kalimpong subdivision to Sikkim and the GLP is very much present there. About Rs 50 lakh worth of Sikkim-bottled liquor is smuggled into the hills every day, though I cannot say how much quantity was seized today,” said a Morcha central committee member.