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Special cell to probe firing

Darjeeling, July 31: The Bengal government has decided to form a special investigation team to probe the July 25 firing on Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters, which killed one of them, and the subsequent attacks on GNLF leaders across the hills.

“The special team will consist of officials from all those police stations from where cases of vandalism were reported. The team will be headed by a deputy superintendent of police (DSP),” D. Lepcha, the inspector-general of police (special), Darjeeling range, told The Telegraph today. The team is expected to comprise at least four inspectors and an equal number of sub-inspectors and the officials will start work within a couple of days.

Till date, the respective police stations where the FIRs had been lodged were investigating the case. From now on, the investigation officer of the SIT will look into all the cases as a single entity.

On July 25, Pramila Sharma, a Morcha activist was killed by a bullet fired allegedly from the house of Deepak Gurung, the Darjeeling Branch Committee president of the GNLF. Pramila was one of 10-15 women supporters of the Morcha who had assembled in front of Gurung’s house, asking a local boy about the GNLF leader’s whereabouts.

Following Pramila’s death, the houses of at least six GNLF leaders and supporters were vandalised across the hills. The brunt of the attack was borne mainly by top-rung leaders like Gurung, N.K. Kumai and Aitaraj Dewan in Darjeeling, along with Bhanu Lama in Peshok and Dawa Pakhrin and C.K. Kumai in Kalimpong. The houses of these leaders were either ransacked or set on fire. The vehicles of some of the leaders were not spared either.

“The decision (to form the special team) was taken considering the gravity and the importance of the case,” Lepcha added.

Soon after the attack, senior GNLF leaders like Gurung, Dewan and Kumai, along with 11 others, were arrested. The GNLF, on its part, filed seven FIRs naming 13 Morcha leaders, including Amar Lama and D.K. Pradhan.

The Morcha leaders have not yet been arrested although the court here has taken cognisance of the FIRs. The GNLF leaders, who are in judicial custody, will be produced in the court of the chief judicial magistrate on August 8.

The police have also recovered 10 empty cartridges of three different types from Gurung’s residence. They suspect that the bullets were fired from three guns.

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