The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pants down in club card room

Darjeeling, May 20: Darjeeling Gymkhana Club, a bastion of genteel manners and polite conversation, is rocked by scandal amid allegations that three members were caught in the card room having sex with a woman.

The club has now show-caused the trio, but only after the Opposition Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League threatened to “expose the offenders and plaster the town with their posters.”

The club, established in 1908 and poised to celebrate its centenary next year, is the meeting place of Darjeeling’s who’s who and has some 300 members from Calcutta, Siliguri and Jalpaiguri.

The three “offenders”, all local businessmen aged between 32 and 40, are believed to have told a club staffer on May 11 they would be playing cards and wanted the room locked from the outside for the sake of privacy.

“The staffer returned at 8 pm to see what they were doing,” a source said. “He found one of them having sex with a woman in her early 20s and the other two watching. He closed the door and called the others.”

Sources said club vice-chairman B.M. Garg kept the incident under wraps for a week, and most among the club committee’s 14 members and the one-member managing committee learnt of it only on May 18.

Last evening, when an emergent meeting was called after the League threat, even ordinary members turned up to question what they saw as a cover-up bid. Garg is said to have argued he hadn’t revealed the incident because club chairman Mamanchand Agarwal was out of town.

The meeting decided to showcause and suspend the three men, who seem to have gone into hiding. If they don’t reply in three days, they lose their membership.

Two of the men are in the garment business and the third deals in office equipment, and only one of them is married.

In the absence of a specific rule, they have been charged with “immoral activities” on the premises and could be expelled for “bringing disrepute to the club”.

No charges have been brought against the woman on the ground that club rules allow guests to be brought in.

Membership of the club, located in the Mall area near the Raj Bhavan, comes against a one-time fee of Rs 35,000. The governor is the ex-officio president.

“The 14-member committee decides on the membership and even if just four of them vote against a name, he cannot be admitted,” a member said.

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