Saturday, September 12, 2009

Ex-GNLF leader’s car burnt at night

Morcha accused of arson and ransack
Kurseong, Sept. 11: The house of a former DGHC councillor was ransacked and his car set on fire last night allegedly by a mob led by two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders even as party president Bimal Gurung claimed that efforts were on to maintain peace in the hills.

The former councillor, I.N. Pradhan, was the Kurseong branch president of the GNLF before he quit the party last year.

Around 8.30pm, two Morcha leaders — Bobby Pradhan, a central committee member, and Suprem Chettri — called Pradhan out of his house at Ghayabari, 15km from here.

“When I came out, they started accusing me of attending a GNLF meeting at Longview area some days ago. I told them to show me authentic proof of my attending the meeting. A few minutes later, they went away threatening to return with more supporters,” Pradhan told journalists today.

Pradhan reportedly called up the subdivisional police officer (SDPO) seeking protection. “The Morcha duo had returned with some 20 supporters around 9:30pm and started throwing stones at my house. They first broke the windowpanes, then broke open the garage and brought out my WagonR (WB 66 3322) and set it on fire. They had fled by the time police arrived. ”

Pradhan and his wife Deepa had by then locked themselves inside the house. The former councillor filed an FIR with Kurseong police naming Bobby and Suprem as the main accused.

Pradhan denied having attended the Longview meeting. “I had resigned from the GNLF on July 27 last year. On September 7, I had been to Siliguri to buy vegetables in the evening. If they (the Morcha) prove (that I attended the meeting), I promise that I will leave the hills within 12 hours. When I don’t have links with the GNLF why should I attend the meeting?”

The SDPO of Kurseong, Rakesh Singh, confirmed that an FIR had been filed. “We are investigating the incident. No one has been arrested so far,” he said.

The Morcha, however, refused comment on the attack. “I am going to Ghayabari to investigate the incident. I will be able to speak on this matter only after I come back,” said Kamal Thapa, the vice-president of the party’s Kurseong unit, over the phone around 3pm.

The media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, Rohit Sharma, said he was busy attending a meeting.

The arson in the hills continues even as Gurung said on September 6 that while chalking out fresh agitation plans, he had kept in mind the “Centre’s request to maintain peace”.

Last year, on September 7, the Maruti car of Rajen Mukhia, a former GNLF leader, was set on fire allegedly by Morcha supporters in front of his house at Panighata in Mirik.

Morcha supporters had also occupied the sprawling bungalow of GNLF leader Dawa Pakhrin in Kalimpong on August 22 last year, planting flags atop the building and its main gate.

The residence of former civic chief of Kalimpong C.K. Kumai had been ransacked and Maurice Kalikotey’s house torched as Morcha supporters went on the rampage following the death of one of its supporters in Darjeeling on July 25, 2008. The bullet that killed Pramila Sharma had been allegedly fired from the house of Deepak Gurung, the Darjeeling branch committee president of the GNLF.

The Morcha took over GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh’s two-storeyed house at his native village in Manju Tea Estate, around 15km from Mirik, and converted it into a unit office on July 29 last year.