SDF leader arrested over Facebook post
Prakash Gurung, a youth leader of the Sikkim Democratic Front, was arrested from Gangtok on Thursday on charges of promoting enmity between communities after a night of high drama played out at the Sadar police station.
Gurung was arrested for his comments on his Facebook page while sharing a video link in which Bhim Bahadur Mukhia, the president of the All Sikkim Truck Drivers’ Association, had challenged Sikkim chief minister P. S. Tamang (Golay) for a debate on his alleged undelivered promises.
In his comments in Roman Nepali and English, Gurung said Mukhia had reportedly gone missing following his comments against the government, and it was for the police to trace him immediately.
He had ended his comment by stating: “Golay vs Mukhia”.
The last line was allegedly construed as being an attempt to promote enmity and hatred between the Golays who are Tamangs and the Mukhias who are Sunuwars. Both belong to the larger Nepali-speaking community.
Confirming the arrest of Gurung to The Telegraph, Shiv Prasad Yellasari, the superintendent of police of East Sikkim, said Gurung had been charged with promoting enmity and hatred between communities under Sections 153A and 505 (clause 2) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The arrest was made on the basis of a complaint filed by Mukhia’s wife. Gurung had been to summoned to the Sadar police station multiple times on Thursday and a large number of people had gathered outside the building.
Nawin Kiran Pradhan, an advocate and a political activist, said the arrest of Gurung on flimsy ground was unjustified and excessive because it was like implying writing “Golay vs Chamling” or “Modi vs Gandhi (Rahul)” was promoting enmities between the communities they come from.
“Police should work according to the law of the land. It should be a professional force rather than a political force,” he said.
Pradhan was among a group of protesters who had gathered at the Sadar police station immediately after learning about Gurung’s detention and subsequent arrest. His vehicle was allegedly attacked by unidentified persons while he was returning home from the police station.
“I have lodged an FIR with the police. The matter is being investigated,” said Pradhan.
The police produced Gurung in a court in Gangtok on Friday and he was granted bail.
Mukhia, the truckers’ president, who was at the police station while the drama was unfolding, accused the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha of targeting him for his comments against Golay and the party. He said he had to run away from Sikkim for several days and on his return, was forcibly admitted to a de-addiction centre.
“They are putting pressure on my family. I used to drink, but not anymore. I have never used drugs,” he said.