Darjeeling, Aug. 3: Almost all shops in Darjeeling town were shut today after a single poster signed by the “public of Darjeeling” appeared last evening calling for a shutdown of business establishments.
No organisation took responsibility for the poster calling the shutdown but the first poster in Chowk Bazar led to a flurry of poster-slapping, some requesting people to keep the town running, others thanking “the administration for arresting” those involved an alleged funds misappropriation scam of a minority institution.
The first poster that told residents to keep businesses shut mentioned the arrest of Zahid Khan, the councillor of ward 18 of Darjeeling municipality, for his alleged role in financial irregularities of Anjuman Islamia, a society formed for the interests of the minority community.
Soon after “Darjeeling Janta (public of Darjeeling)” had put up the poster at Chowk Bazar yesterday around 3pm, another poster, this time signed by the “Sadharan Janata (the common public) was plastered at the same spot, urging people to keep the town open.
Early this morning, the Trinamul Congress put up a poster requesting people not to shut down businesses.
Around 2pm today, another poster signed by the “Garib Muslim Janata (the poor Musilm public)” was plastered, expressing their gratitude to the administration for arresting those involved in allegedly “embezzling” money meant for poor people.
An hour later, Trinamul put up another poster, protesting the closure of the town over “personal issues”.
N.B. Khawash, a Trinamul leader in Darjeeling, said: “We are against bandhs. After years, peace is returning to the hills. Tourists have started visiting the hills once again and it does not make sense to shut a town on personal issues.”
The 43-year-old Khan was arrested on July 31 after the wakf board filed a case with Bowbazar police in Calcutta last month.
In the complaint, eight former members of the Anjuman Islamia in Darjeeling were accused of indulging in financial irregularities in connection with the sale of three buildings.
Workers at the Darjeeling municipality observed a strike on August 1 to protest Khan’s arrest and a section of the Muslim shopkeepers downed shutters the next day.
Khan has been booked under Sections 120B (criminal conspiracy), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property of IPC.
He has been remanded in police custody and will be produced in court tomorrow.
Dipankar Dey, the defence lawyer for Khan, today said: “We are claiming that the Anjuman Islamia does not fall under the wakf board and they have no right to file a case against the eight persons. Anjuman Islamia is a body registered under the Societies Act and has its independent constitution. For property to be under the wakf board, due survey must be conducted; the state government has to come up with a gazette notification and the record must be included in the land records. There have been no such things on Anjuman Islamia.”