Hill councillors held hostage: Civic chief

'Councillors of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Bimal Gurung camp are virtually being held hostage'

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 6.06.19, 3:14 AM
  • Updated 6.06.19, 3:14 AM
  • a min read
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Prativa (third from left) at the press meet on Wednesday A Telegraph picture

The fight for the control of Darjeeling municipality is going through twists and turns with chairperson Prativa Rai Tamang alleging that “four-to-five” councillors of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Bimal Gurung camp are virtually being held hostage.

Seventeen councillors of the hill body had on May 29 purportedly signed a petition seeking a special meeting to table a no-confidence motion against Prativa, who is aligned to the Binay Tamang camp of the Morcha. The same day, Lakpa Sherpa, the councillor of ward 28, filed an FIR at Darjeeling Sadar police station, saying he had been duped into signing the petition.

On Wednesday, Prativa told a news conference here: “Not all, but four-to-five councillors are in distress and are being kept under virtual house arrests. They were taken to Nepal from Darjeeling and are being shifted to Delhi.”

A few days back, a video had emerged in the social media, showing all the 16 councillors in the Gurung faction. The footage shows a few councillor asking their family members not to worry.

But the police said they had received a “missing diary” from the husband of one of the 16 councillors. A family member of another councillor filed a “kidnapping” complaint against Noman Rai, the councillor of ward 6 and others.

Noman had led the councillors to Prativa, seeking a special meeting. Prativa had alleged that she had been manhandled when the councillors had met her to submit the no-trust petition.

Darjeeling municipality has 32 wards but two seats are currently vacant.

Going strictly by numbers, Gurung has the edge with the 16 councillors at the moment.

Prativa on Wednesday alleged: “Our councillors (in the Tamang camp) have told me Bimal Gurung is applying pressure on them by sending messages and speaking to them through video calls. They are being told that all their needs would be taken care of. Such pressure tactics should stop.”

Asked when she would call the special meeting to take up the no-trust motion, Prativa said: “I was discharged from the hospital on Monday. Today is a holiday. Tomorrow, I will sit with officials and go through the Act and then decide my next course of action.”