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Morcha sees cell torture in disappearance - 'Custody death' & plot theories do rounds

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VIVEK CHHETRI Published 23.08.10, 12:00 AM

Darjeeling, Aug. 22: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has alleged that police are trying to hide that an ailing Nickole Tamang died in custody.

Nickole, a diabetic with kidney problems, was unable to bear the grilling and the torture at the CID interrogation camp, the party said.

The Morcha has called an indefinite strike across Darjeeling district from 1pm today, demanding that the police should produce Nickole “alive within 12 hours”. National Highway 31A and tea and cinchona plantations have been kept out of the purview of the strike.

The police said Nickole fled from the CID interrogation centre — a DGHC guest house at Pintail Village near Siliguri — early this morning.

The Morcha has refused to buy the police story. Party spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri said: “Nickole Tamang was a diabetic, suffering from high blood sugar and kidney problems. We fear that Nickole’s body could not take the torture and he must have collapsed or even died. The police are probably trying to hide the fact.” On August 18, defence lawyer Taranga Pandit had told the court hearing the CID plea for police remand that Nickole was a diabetic and should be treated well.

Demanding that Nickole be produced alive, Chhetri said: “We have called an indefinite strike and if he is not produced within 12 hours, the hills could be on fire.” Traffic will be allowed till 6pm, the party said.

The Morcha claimed that it was virtually “impossible” for Nickole to escape from Pintail Village. “We were told that he was being guarded by 70 police personnel. How can an accused in such a sensitive case flee from a heavily fortified place? Had he been in Darjeeling, he probably could have fled but it is impossible for a hill person having little knowledge of the plains to hoodwink the police. In custody, an accused does not carry money or have access to facilities for communication,” said Chhetri.

However, Nickole was no stranger to the layout of Pintail Village, as claimed by his party members. He often stayed at the complex frequented by the Morcha leadership.

The hill outfit said it believed that Nickole was innocent. “That is why we did not protest his arrest. We wanted the law to take its own course,” said Morcha vice-president Pradip Pradhan.

“An accused sent to police custody has to be at a police station. What was he doing at the CID camp? The state government orchestrated the entire show to put our movement into reverse gear,” said Morcha assistant secretary Binay Tamang.

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