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GTA member arrested for allegedly supplying firearms

Darjeeling : The Darjeeling police arrested Pul-Bijanbari-Goke constituency Gorkhaland Territorial Administration member Kaziman Lohagun for his alleged involvement in supplying firearms to six persons who are presently under arrest for threatening a landowner in Jamuney. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha launched an immediate protest and demanded his release within 48 hours. According to Darjeeling SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi, the GTA sabhasad was arrested on the basis of a statement made to the police by the six persons who are in seven days police custody. “The six arrested persons have stated that Lohagun supplied them with weapons. We arrested the GTA sabhasad this morning on this basis,” he said. On June 17, Shukraj Limbu, Jaikishan Pradhan, Dutnath Chowrasia, Subash Khatri, Dipak Kumar Rai and Navin Limbu were arrested on the charge of threatening Manilal Tamang, a landowner in Jamuney. The six have been slapped with Sections 447 (criminal trespass), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and 34 (common intent) of the IPC read with Sections 3 (IV, V, X and XV) of Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Caste and Tribe Act.

Lohagun was produced at the chief judicial magistrate court in the afternoon and has been sent to five days police remand. “During interrogation, the six arrested persons admitted Lohagun could be in possession of more weapons. Hence, to interrogate him further and recover more firearms, CJM court in-charge Rafiq Ahmed sent the sabhasad to five days police remand,” informed the Assistant Public Prosecutor. The APP also said the names of two more persons have cropped up while interrogating the six arrested. So far, an improvised gun, a rod and a khukuri have been recovered from the six. Nine land losers of Jamuney have objected and lodged a complaint against the GTA for forcibly acquiring their land without compensating them. The GTA plans to convert Jamuney into a tourist spot. Lohagun’s arrest has sparked protests from the GJM with party leaders demanding his release within 48 hours and serving a deputation to the district administration. “The police have arrested an elected member, who is also a senior citizen and a chronic diabetic. We protest against this move and demand his unconditional release.

We will wait till Sunday evening and if Lohagun and the others are not released, we will start a democratic agitation,” warned GJM assistant general secretary Binay Tamang. The GJM also plans to write to the union and state home secretaries apprising them about the sabhasad’s arrest. Bijanbari town today witnessed a total shutdown in protest following Lohagun’s arrest. Tamang said this was a spontaneous response from the people to the arrest. No untoward incident was reported from the area. The assistant general secretary, who is also a GTA executive member and heads the information and cultural affairs department, further informed the GTA Sabha will convene an emergency meeting Saturday and adopt a resolution on the arrest. Commenting on the Jamuney issue and the subsequent arrests, Tamang claimed the entire episode is politically motivated and smells of deep conspiracy. “Land in Jamuney is not being taken over by the land mafia. It is the GTA, an autonomous body, which is developing the area into a tourist hub for everyone’s benefit. The project was started with the consent of the GTA principal secretary, who is appointed by the state government,” the GJM leader said, adding 12 landowners have signed on the dotted line expressing their willingness to part with their land for development purposes.

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