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Councillor kin killed

Darjeeling, June 21: A relative of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council councillor Netra Thakuri was killed at the motor stand here today in what is believed to be a revenge attack. Shops downed shutters and vehicles went off the roads to protest the murder.

Around 10 am, eight people armed with kukhris cornered and killed Kiran Thakuri, 35, a resident of Phubshering tea garden, at a crowded market-place near the stand.

Netra Thakuri, Lebong Valley councillor, said his relative Kiran had received threats over the last few days. Netra said he believed people from Baneckburn tea garden had murdered Kiran, and named one Maila Rai in his FIR.

The councillor felt the killing was not politically motivated.

Kiran is suspected to have been involved in the murder of Anand Rai, a gram panchayat member of the Lebong II block, on July 29 last year. Rai, 32, was hacked to death at the motor stand in a manner similar to Kiran’s murder.

Police believe today’s killing could be a revenge attack since Maila is Anand’s elder brother. Darjeeling police superintendent Sanjay Chander said Kiran was also involved in five murders and had been arrested earlier for possessing illegal arms.

“We had information that trouble may occur in Phubshering-Lebong yesterday. Accordingly, we despatched a large police force, but there were no disturbances there,” Chander said.

A large police contingent was deployed in Darjeeling today after an agitated mob forced vehicles off the roads and made shops down shutters.

Normalcy returned after Thakuri’s body was taken to his village following a post-mortem.

But Lebong Valley remained tense and an angry crowd set Maila’s rented house ablaze in the afternoon. No further trouble was reported.

The Gorkha National Liberation Front Darjeeling branch committee chief, Deepak Gurung, said the attack was “not a political murder”, adding that the hill station would be back to normal tomorrow. The front has demanded that the culprits be arrested immediately.

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