Siliguri, April 3: A youth from Darjeeling was arrested this afternoon for allegedly trying to extort Rs 2.5 lakh from an automobile showroom owner allegedly for “Bimal Gurung’s election campaign”.
The arrested youth has told police that his name is Saroj Chhetri and he is a resident of Chhota Kakjhora in Darjeeling town. Police are yet to frame charges against the youth and he is likely to be produced in court tomorrow.
O.G. Pal, the deputy commissioner of Siliguri metropolitan police, said: “We received a complaint from the owner of the automobile showroom this morning. He told us that a person had called up him and introduced himself as a representative of Bimal Gurung (the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president) and asked for money for his election campaign.”
Pal said: “The caller also mentioned that he would send a person to the showroom this afternoon to collect the money. Our men were posted in the showroom and when the youth turned up around 12pm, he was immediately arrested.”
Pal said Chhetri had revealed during interrogation that he was a driver.
“Chhetri also said a person named Nilam had assigned him the job to extort the money. For collecting the money, Chhetri was promised Rs 20,000,” said Pal.
Nilesh Agarwal, who runs the automobile showroom at Matigara, said a person had called him from an unknown number last night, said: “The caller asked for Rs 20 lakh for election campaign. As I expressed my inability, the caller got furious. He then insisted that I should pay Rs 5 lakh. Then, he disconnected the call.”
Agarwal said as the caller had introduced himself as Bimal Gurung, “I had doubts about the identity of the caller”.
He called up a senior leader (of the Morcha) and mentioned the call. “He denied the involvement of his party and said the call must be a hoax.”
Agarwal said the person who had asked for the money rang him up again and said a youth would visit the showroom today. “I was told he would be wearing a black shirt and would give me a 10-rupee note bearing a specific serial number. The amount also came down to Rs 2.5 lakh. I agreed but I informed the police.”
The police nabbed the boy when he went to the automobile showroom.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said in Darjeeling: “The incident has nothing to do with our party. Some people are trying to malign the Morcha ahead of the polls.”
A Trinamul supporter was detained by police on Thursday on the basis of a complaint by the personal security officer of Bimal Gurung who said the youth was carrying a firearm in his car.
Dawa Lepcha, the youth, was inside a vehicle that came in the way of Gurung’s convoy when the Morcha leader was going to Kalimpong.