Darjeeling, July 23: A nominated member of the GTA Sabha from the Trinamul Congress has been accused of trying to forcibly take over a part of Snow View Hotel here and assaulting its owner with the help of goons.
Durga Kharel, the accused GTA member, is a government pleader in the Darjeeling district court and the convenor of Trinamul’s town committee. He is the counsel of a woman who is fighting a legal battle in which her brother is accused of not transferring to her a portion of the hotel though it was bequeathed to her by the father.
The 33-room Snow View Hotel was set up in 1931 along Hill Cart Road at Kakjhora in Darjeeling. The hotel consisted of five small buildings, one of which was purportedly given to Rikta Behera as per the partition deed of her father, Sati Prasanna Biswas, in 1981.
The rest of the four buildings are owned by Rikta’s brother, Santanu Biswas. However, Rikta’s share was bought by Kharel for Rs 10 lakh in 2001, at a time he was representing her in the in the court of civil judge (senior division), Darjeeling, in the case against Santanu Biswas.
According to an FIR filed by Santanu with Darjeeling Sadar police, Kharel arrived at the hotel around 5pm yesterday and “tried to forcibly take possession of the suit property by breaking open locks”.
“When resisted, Mr Sharma (Durga Kharel is also known as Durga Prasad Sharma) assaulted with kicks and boxed by pushing me down to the ground. His goondas were fully armed with rods and sticks and if my neighbours had not intervened, I, could have been grievously and seriously injured,” reads the FIR.
Metro has pictures which don’t show anyone armed with rods and sticks.
Kharel, however, denied the allegation and in turn filed a counter-FIR, accusing Santanu and his wife of assaulting the GTA member and his spouse. Kharel said the attack took place when he and his wife had gone to the hotel.
“I had gone there not to take the possession of the property but only to see whether it was damaged as I was in the area yesterday. There were no goons in the area. But seeing me in the area, some Trinamul supporters had come,” said Kharel.
Both the FIRs were lodged yesterday.
The police said since the contents of the complaints suggested that there was only a minor scuffle, it could be classified only as a non-cognisable offence. “Therefore, we have submitted a report to the chief judicial magistrate (in Darjeeling) apprising him of the two complaints,” said a police officer on condition of anonymity.
In a non-cognisable offence, a police officer does not have the authority to make an arrest or launch a probe without permission from the court.
The scuffle took place amidst a legal battle between Santanu and Rikta who filed a case in the court of civil judge (senior division) in 1993, alleging that her brother had not handed over to her the possession of her share of the property.
Santanu lost the case in 2005. Even before the verdict came, Rikta’s property had been sold to her advocate, Kharel.
Santanu filed an appeal in the district court against the civil judge’s order. In 2006, Kharel, after getting a verdict on the possession of the building, applied for the execution of the said order so that the property would come under him.
However, since an appeal had been filed in the district court, the Trinamul leader didn’t press for the execution of the order for the possession. When Santanu lost the case in the district court in 2012, Kharel again pressed for the execution of the order. But Santanu claimed that he had filed an appeal in Calcutta High Court.
Kharel said he had found out that the case had not yet been admitted in the high court. “Nevertheless, since he is claiming that he has appealed in the high court, I told the civil judge that time should be given to Santanu to bring the stay order,” said Kharel.
The GTA member alleges that Santanu is trying to buy time so that “he will continue to run the property as he has been doing since 1981 without paying anything to the actual owner of the property”.
Biswas said: “I will fight the case, if possible even in the Supreme Court and it is for the court to decide on the facts. My only argument is that Kharel cannot forcibly occupy the property taking advantage of his political clout until the verdict is clear.”