Kalimpong, Sept. 18: A team of Bandi Mukti Committee, a rights organisation based in Calcutta, arrived today on a fact-finding mission regarding the spate of arrests of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders and supporters during the statehood agitation.
Ten executive members of the GTA Sabha, other party leaders and businessmen deemed close to the Morcha are among the over 1,000 people arrested since the start of the latest round of agitation that began in July-end.
“We are here to collect facts and figures — who are the persons arrested and what are the charges against them. How many of them have been given the status of political prisoners,” said Ajit Roy, a member of the committee.
The team headed by the committee’s secretary Chhoton Das interacted with the family of two Morcha leaders, Kalyan Dewan and Barun Bhujel, who had been put behind bars on various charges in separate cases.
Dewan is the vice-president of the Morcha and Bhujel is a ward commissioner of the Kalimpong municipality. The visitors met Bhujel while he was being produced in a court.
The rights team would meet more arrested leaders of the Morcha and their families in Darjeeling tomorrow.
Roy said they would also seek appointments with senior administration officials, including the district magistrate and the superintendent of police in Darjeeling tomorrow.
“We have been told that over 1,000 people have been arrested. We are against this,” Roy said, while making it clear that the organisation was not here to take any stand on the Gorkhaland movement, “which will have to be resolved politically in a democratic manner”.
He demanded that the arrested Morcha supporters be treated as political prisoners.
The committee’s secretary said the facts collected during the field visit would be put up before governor M.K. Narayanan and chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
“We are seeking appointments with the chief minister and the governor. We will prepare a memorandum on the basis of our findings and seek an unconditional release of political prisoners,” he said.
The Morcha had boycotted a meeting of the GTA Sabha convened to choose a successor to Bimal Gurung, who had resigned from the post of the chief executive, demanding the release of arrested GTA Sabha members.
The businessmen’s arrest has been attributed to the state government’s attempt to stem the flow of funds to the Morcha. Police sources said the traders used to fund the Morcha for the statehood movement.