Morcha deadline for CPM arrests

Siliguri, May 7: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has set a deadline of seven days for the Darjeeling district administration to arrest three CPM leaders for spearheading alleged assaults on some of its supporters in different parts of the town last week.
Bimal Gurung, the Morcha president, threatened to bring down 10,000 cadres from the hills for a protest meeting and call an indefinite strike across the district if the deadline is not met.
Addressing a rally at Indira Gandhi Maidan here this afternoon, Gurung said: “Based on reports, we have lodged complaints against Jibitesh Sarkar, Mukul Sengupta and Shankar Ghosh, all CPM leaders, for assaulting our supporters, including girls, while they were on their way to the subdivisional office for a hunger strike.”
The death of a 25-year-old while returning to the hills, the arrest of an inebriated supporter, a fire in a kitchen raised on the grounds and a daylong traffic congestion on the Darjeeling More-Bhaktinagar More stretch of NH31 marked the meeting.
Earlier in the day, the Darjeeling district administration, which included 1,000 police personnel, coupled with 5,000 volunteers of the Morcha had monitored the crowd of more than one lakh as they kept trickling into the town from around 10am. A batch of 1,500 Morcha volunteers had already arrived yesterday.
At the receiving end of Gurung’s speech were the CPM and the Bengal urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya.
Senior leaders like Ananda Pathak and S.P. Lepcha were also not spared in the more than 20 minutes of CPM-bashing. “It’s a shame that they are members of a political party whose cadres are beating up our boys and girls. They should not forget their identity,” he said.
About Bhattacharya, Gurung said: “He had said he would not let Siliguri be included in Gorkhaland. We now say that we will not leave an inch of Siliguri outside Gorkhaland. Ghisingh was a hindrance to a separate state. We threw him away like an ominous black cat on March 10. I warn Asok Bhattacharya that he should not do anything that will force us to remove him in a similar manner.”
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri and leaders like Harka Bahadur Chhetri also spoke on Gurung’s lines and so did Kamtapur Progressive Party president Atul Roy and Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party president Asutosh Barma.
Contacted in Calcutta, Bhattacharya said: “I hate to talk about politicians who are not competent and exploit the emotions of a community to achieve their ends. The way they have held the meeting and spoken today is comparable to the Nazis during World War II.”
In his speech, the Morcha president did not forget to thank the administration for the arrangements. “We had a number of preconceived notions (about the administration), but it was good to see that everything went off smoothly,” he said. “I thank the administration for making the necessary arrangements.”
Three police officials of the rank of inspector-general and two special inspector-generals had been assigned the responsibility of the arrangement.
“We had divided the force into two groups. While one batch was kept at the venue, the other was posted along the road to check indiscipline. Around one lakh people had assembled and about 5,000 vehicles had come today but thankfully no untoward incident was reported,” said K.L. Tamta, the inspector general of police (north Bengal).
There was a scare around 2.50pm, when a fire broke out in a makeshift kitchen. The volunteers were quick to douse the flames, which left one injured.
Binod Pradhan, a resident of Kalimpong, died when the truck in which he was travelling was hit by a boulder at Hatisurey, 25km from here. “The boulder fell from the hills above, injuring six in the vehicle,” said Uday Tamang, the officer in charge of Rambhi police outpost. “One succumbed to injuries on his way to the Kalimpong hospital.”
Two of the five injured have been admitted to a nursing home in Siliguri, while others were administered first aid at Rambhi block health centre and released.
A truck carrying supporters from Darjeeling had overturned near Salbari close to Sukna on NH55, injuring two.

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