| Pradhan’s daughter and wife at their house on Thursday. Picture by Avijit Sarkar
Kalimpong, Oct. 3: The brutal murder of dissident GNLF leader Chandra Kumar Pradhan, popularly known as CK, has again brought to the fore the violence that has characterised the Gorkha National Liberation Front.
Pradhan was catapulted into the limelight in the early days of the 28-month-long violent Gorkhaland agitation of the mid-eighties as a dreaded militant leader who held fort in the Kalimpong sub-division.
Between the jailed Gorkha Liberation Organisation (GLO) chief Chhatray Subba and Pradhan the two of them had a stranglehold on Kalimpong, with even security forces unwilling to take the risk and venture into areas controlled by the Gorkha Volunteers’ Cell (GVC), the militant arm of the GNLF controlled by the duo.
Pradhan was “unceremoniously” removed as chief of the party’s Kalimpong unit in May 2001, after an influential section of his detractors within the GNLF accused him of having a hand in the February 10, 2001, assassination attempt on Subash Ghising.
Pradhan was subsequently sacked from the prestigious post of councillor-in-charge of forests, only to be handed the not-so-sought-after portfolio of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes welfare department.
For a long time, Pradhan had been at loggerheads with his mentor Ghising though at one time, the two shared a father-son relationship. Party insiders said that over the years, the GNLF boss had grown wary of the “ambitious” CK.
On several occasions, Pradhan had “revolted” for not being allotted prime portfolios in the GNLF-run Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).
GNLF insiders maintained Pradhan had, over the years, treaded on too many toes and made enemies of powerful people.
“He may have antagonised a lot of people during and after the Gorkhaland agitation. Pradhan’s death could be the handiwork of a killer out to seek revenge,” a senior GNLF leader said on condition of anonymity.
Political observers said Pradhan’s murder could create a void in hill politics. “It was rumoured that Pradhan was on the verge of floating a new party comprising dissident GNLF members. The party was to be formally announced in a couple of days. Pradhan enjoyed popular support among a large section of the hill residents in Kalimpong. Unlike other senior GNLF leaders, Pradhan could be easily approached. He was a flamboyant leader.”
“CK was ambitious and outspoken. Probably that is why he had fallen out with his mentor and party chief Ghising,” said a Pradhan supporter.