Attack on GNLF duo

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, April 16: A group of alleged Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters today vandalised the house of one GNLF leader and assaulted his party colleague at a time the ousted outfit is trying to make a comeback in the hills.

Bhanu Lama, a former DGHC councillor, and Deepak Gurung, the former GNLF Darjeeling branch committee president, have been politically inactive for the last four years.

Gurung was assaulted outside his house, which he was forced to abandon in 2008. The death of a Morcha supporter, Pramila Sharma, from a bullet allegedly fired from Gurung’s house on July 25, 2008, had set off a wave of attacks on GNLF supporters in Darjeeling.

The houses of several of GNLF leaders, including Gurung and Lama, had been burned down and the two were forced to flee the hills, along with party chief Subash Ghisingh.

Gurung, who had been staying in Siliguri ever since, had just returned to Darjeeling when he was assaulted.

While Lama has not been assaulted, he alleged that Morcha activists vandalised his home.

Both GNLF leaders’ homes are in Darjeeling town.

Lama has filed an FIR with the Darjeeling Sadar police station but Gurung tried to downplay the incident and said he had no plan to lodge a police complaint.

In his FIR, Lama said a group of 25-30 men and women, led by Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha leader Tilak Chhetri, raided his apartment, smashing windowpanes, breaking furniture and a washbasin.

Lama has named in the FIR Chhetri, who is also the commissioner of conservancy department in Darjeeling municipality, Morcha activists Deepak Thapa and Pema Pradhan. Lama had left his house near Dr Zakhir Hussian Road an hour before the attack that took place around 12.45pm.

Other than a few workers who were renovating the flat, nobody else was present when the vandals struck. The mob also beat up two of the workers.

Police sources said the same group had assaulted Gurung before proceeding to Lama’s house, which is 500m away. Gurung was roughed up when he was about to enter his house. The boundary wall of his house is shared by the compound of the quarters of Damayanti Sen, the deputy inspector-general, Darjeeling range.

Asked about the assault, Gurung said: “Small boys had come over and it was a minor incident. I had merely come to collect my daughter’s cupboard and some other things. I do not plan to file and FIR.”

The police sources said Gurung, who came from Siliguri to Darjeeling today, left without taking his daughter’s belongings.

Lama had been staying in his Darjeeling home for the past few months.

The attacks have happened at a time when the GNLF was attempting a comeback in the hills. GNLK leaders had claimed that Morcha members had joined their party in recent weeks. Lama today said: “I have been politically inactive for the past four years. I fail to understand why they vandalised my house. Is this the democracy that they (Morcha) talk about?”

He added: “I have a house in Darjeeling and it seems I do not have the right to stay at my own house. I had come to repair the house. They beat up the workers and vandalised the entire room.”

Sudeep Sarkar, the additional superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said a police picket would be posted at Lama’s house immediately. “We have also got some names (of the attackers) and after the verification, we will immediately swing into action.”

Chhetri, who is the president of the Darjeeling town committee of the Yuva Morcha, denied the charge against him. “I know nothing about the incident and I am not involved. My name is being unnecessarily dragged into it.”

Asked about the attacks, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “I don’t know anything about the incidents.”

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