The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bomb scare in Darjeeling
- Gift-wrapped device found in hill municipality building

Darjeeling, Aug. 30: A gift-wrapped parcel containing a “bomb-like device” was found inside a GNLF commissioner’s chamber at the Darjeeling Municipality this morning, creating a flutter in town.

The bomb disposal squad of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrived from Siliguri and disabled the device by triggering an explosion on the municipality campus around 6 in the evening.

“We cannot be absolutely certain that this is a bomb. It may have been an explosive-like device and can be ascertained only after it is tested in a forensic laboratory,” said Darjeeling police chief Rajesh Subarno.

Members of the bomb squad said the parcel contained a power source comprising two Duracell batteries, some wires and a detonator attached to the “explosive”, which will be sent to a forensic laboratory in Calcutta.

Subarno said only the detonator had been exploded while disabling the device. The other components seemed intact when the bomb squad members held them up afterwards.

The gift had been addressed to Basundhara Pradhan, the commissioner of Ward 6. “When I came to office at 12.30pm, I was told that someone had left a gift for me. I even shook the parcel and tore parts of the wrapper before I saw some wires inside. It is then that people said it could be a bomb and I got frightened,” Pradhan said.

M. Tamang, an employee, quickly took the parcel out of Pradhan’s chamber and dumped it in a garbage vat on the municipality premises, where it lay until the bomb squad arrived.

Pradhan said she was told that a boy aged between 16-18 years had placed the parcel in her office. A number of civic employees claimed that a fair-complexioned boy wearing glasses had come to the municipality with a similar packet yesterday and was also seen there today. The wrapper said the gift was “From N”.

A huge crowd gathered at the municipality in the afternoon and many even went near the garbage vat to take a peek at the parcel. However, Darjeeling additional police superintendent Jayanta Kumar Pal shooed them when he reached the spot and, as a precautionary measure, covered the parcel with sand.

After the device was disarmed, the police searched the entire municipality building, but found nothing.

Deepak Gurung, the president of the Darjeeling branch committee of the GNLF, said the police “should take serious note of the incident”.

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