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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Bimal Gurung case withdrawal process going on

Drive began in November, around 70 of 130-odd complaints taken back till now: Official

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 21.02.21, 01:03 AM
Bimal Gurung

Bimal Gurung File picture

The process of withdrawing cases against Bimal Gurung, the leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, who had been on the run for more than three years from law enforcers, has started, much to the hill leader’s relief.

“The process started from November last year. There has been a sanction to withdraw almost 130-odd cases of which nearly 70 cases have been withdrawn over the past few months,” said an official involved in the matter.

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Gurung, a long-time ally of the BJP, parted ways with the saffron camp in October 2020 citing “unfulfilled promises” related to a permanent political solution in the hills, and joined hands with ruling Trinamul. After this, Gurung’s visibility increased in the hills.

Sources in the know said that Gurung has around 400-odd cases slapped against him since 2007, when Bengal was under Left rule.

Even though the cases against Gurung, except murder, were to be withdrawn when the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was formed in 2012, no such step had been taken by the state, then headed by Trinamul.

Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee File picture

“So if one is to take into account all the cases since 2007 and not just the 2012 agitation cases, there are almost 400 odd cases. However, murder cases, or individual cases filed against Gurung cannot be withdrawn,” said a source in the know of things.

“Only those cases filed by the government can be withdrawn.”

Withdrawal of the cases, the source said also needs the governor’s sanction.

“The process starts from the office of the legal remembrance cell of the judicial department and order to withdraw the case reads “by order of the governor”. We have received such a sanction for 130 odd cases since November,” the source added.

A senior Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader who is camping in Calcutta for the past few weeks did not want to comment on the development.

“We are not very aware of all the details about the withdrawal of cases. We will want to go through the papers before commenting,” the leader said.

Many were speculating that the Morcha leader was in Calcutta to also talk about withdrawal of cases against Gurung.

“The Morcha leaders have had a bad experience. Even after the GTA was formed, the cases against them were not withdrawn despite repeated assurances from the state government,” said an observer.

Gurung decided to dump the BJP and join TMC in October last year.

“However, we are satisfied with the way things are moving now,” said a leader from the Gurung camp.

Gorkha battalion

Gorkha Battalion became the new political issue of Darjeeling hills with BJP MP Raju Bista stating that the Trinamul government was doing “sheer tokenism” by promising a battalion in the name of Gorkhas.

“Amidst much fanfare Hon’ble CM Mamata Banerjeeji had announced the establishment of a Gorkha Battalion in West Bengal Police, but it has now come to light that only 4 jawans out of a total strength of 123 are actually Gorkhas,” said Bista.

A document on this issue is circulation on social media. Bista’s statement endorses the information though this paper could not independently verify the content.

Four months back, in November 2020, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced three community based battalions for Gorkhas, Narayani Battalion for Rajbangshis and a battalion for tribals from Jangal Mahal.

Bista’s statement, however, prompted even the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Gurung camp), an ally of Trinamul, to issue a statement on Saturday. Keshav Raj Pokhrel, spokesman, GJM (Gurung camp) said they want Gorkhas to be dominant in the battalion. “When the new recruitment takes place, majority of police personnel must be Gorkhas. Non-Gorkhas deputed to the battalion should be retracted.”

Police officers said that the allegations were baseless.

A source said that a battalion usually comprises six to eight companies. Each company has a strength of 100-odd personnel.

"This basically suggests that statements mean nothing as the entire strength of the Gorkha Battalion has not come to light," said a source.

But such was the impact of Bista’ statement and the general perception that the battalion was not for Gorkhas in the Darjeeling hills that even Trinamul Congress came up with a clarification.

N.B. Khawash, coordinator, TMC (Darjeeling) said: “Raju Bista seems to be unaware of administrative procedures.”

The Trinamul leader contested that raising a new battalion was not an easy task that could be left only to new recruits. “Experienced people are needed and this is why police personnel have been send on deputation. Once the recruitment is over, things would be clear,” said Khawash.

Retired army and police officials that this newspaper spoke to had different views on the issue.

Some agreed that a battalion cannot only be raised with new recruits. “The issue is why only four Gorkhas are there in the list of 123 personnel in Gorkha Battalion. However, the question is can all Gorkhas police personnel be withdrawn from various state battalions and deputed in this battalion,” said a retired army officer when asked for an independent opinion.

Some retired police officials also added that instead of raising a new Gorkha Battalion, the state government could have strengthened the Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR).

“EFR predominantly consists of Gorkhas and Jharuas. Recruitment in EFR has come to a standstill. Instead of creating a new Gorkha Battalion, strengthening EFR would have been better,” said a retired police personnel.

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