The disputed land at Jamuni. File picture
Darjeeling, June 18: Six persons were arrested and their earth-moving machines seized yesterday for allegedly threatening a land owner in Jamuni on whose plot GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung plans to develop a tourist spot.
The police seized two bulldozers, an excavator and a pick up van parked on the resident’s plot.
Yesterday, land owner Manilal Tamang lodged a complaint with Pulbazar police station saying six men had threatened him under Gurung’s instructions.
Following the complaint, a case of criminal trespass and conspiracy has been started against the six and Gurung.
“Manilal Tamang, who owns land at Jamuni, filed a police complaint yesterday saying six men armed with sharp weapons and rods threatened him while he was working on his field around 12.30pm. According to the complaint, they told Manilal that he should give his land as a tourism project had been prepared for the area,” said assistant public prosecutor Pankaj Prasad.
The six who were picked up yesterday are Jaikishan Pradhan, Dudnath Chaurasia, Subash Khatri, Deepak Kumar Rai, Nabin Limbu and a boy who could be a minor.
“The court of the chief judicial magistrate has remanded five in police custody for seven days. There is a claim that the sixth accused is a minor. The court has directed that an ossification test (bone test to determine age) be conducted on him at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital. Till then, he has been remanded in judicial custody,” Prasad said.
The six have been booked under Sections 447(criminal trespass), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intent) of the IPC along with Section 3 (IV, V, X and XV) of Prevention of Atrocities on Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes Act.
Asked about Gurung’s name in the complaint, Darjeeling police chief Akhilesh Chaturvedi said: “A case has been started (against him) as the complaint says those who had threatened the landowner had done so under his instruction.”
Asked about the seized items, Chaturvedi said: “We are investigating.”
The project at Jamuni, about 20km from here, has been mired in controversy. In April, nine land owners had complained to the Darjeeling district magistrate, saying the GTA had forcibly occupied 13 acres in 2011 to develop a tourist spot but it had not paid them compensation.
Of the 13 acres, Manilal Tamang’s family alone owns 8 acres. On April 28, district magistrate Puneet Yadav had imposed Section 144 on the 13 acres for two months. On May 30, the district session court passed an interim order staying Yadav’s decision to impose Section 144 in Jamuni.
The case is expected to come up for hearing on June 20.
Dawa Lepcha, GTA Sabha member in charge of the GTA tourism department, refused comment.
“Since I have not got the entire report, I cannot say much,” he said today.
Jamuni is known to be one of Gurung’s favourite haunts and he has been trying to develop the place since he was the local councillor in the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
A boating complex and three tourist huts have been built on government land. The 13 acres is near the Chotta Rangit river where the GTA has been holding a Krishi Mela every year since 2011. Tourism department sources said there was a plan to set up a water kingdom, a garden and erect a statue of the Buddha.