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GTA seeks Centre’s intervention in sabhasad arrest issue

Darjeeling : Taking cognizance of the arrest of one of its sabhasads, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha convened an emergency meeting where it condemned the move and passed a resolution seeking the central government’s intervention and a tripartite meeting. The Sabha has also firmed up to correspond with the state government, while some of its members will soon head to Delhi to apprise the Union home ministry of the situation in the Darjeeling hills. After the meeting, GTA Sabha chairman Bhupendra Pradhan said, “We held an emergency meeting today that was attended by 37 elected and nominated sabhasads to deliberate on the arrest of one our members on false charges. These incidents of arrests are becoming a regular affair in the hills, which is not good. Therefore, we want the central government to intervene as it is also a signatory to the GTA agreement.” The Darjeeling police Friday afternoon arrested Kaziman Lohagun, the GTA sabhasad of Pul-Bijanbari-Goke constituency, for his alleged involvement in supplying weapons to six persons presently under arrest for threatening a landowner in Jamuney where the GTA is developing a tourist spot. 

A 13.8-acre plot is in the eye of a storm after the land losers claimed the GTA had forcibly acquired their property without paying any compensation. GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung’s name also figures in the complaint under the Scheduled Caste and Tribe Act. The sabha chairman did not specify the number of representatives going to Delhi, but said the visit could take place in the first week of July. He said, “We will meet the Union home minister and appeal for a tripartite meeting. The state government is making every effort to ensure the GTA does not function smoothly as it has been doing ever the since the council was formed two years ago. We denounce such oppressive attitude by the state government and want the central government to convene a tripartite meeting at the earliest.” Pradhan also claimed the police did not inform him about Lohagun’s arrest as should be the norm when a GTA member enters into controversy. “I was not intimated by the police about the arrest as is required.

Further, the state government is misusing the central forces deployed in the hills since August last year for its vested interests,” alleged Pradhan. Meanwhile, Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia, who was present along with Gurung at the emergency meeting in the capacity of an ex-officio member of the GTA Sabha, said, “I have taken note of the situation in the hills including the arrest of the sabhasad. I will place the matter before the central government when I return to Delhi.” Even though Gurung refused to speak on the matter, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has already issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the district administration and the state government seeking the unconditional release of Lohagun including the others arrested in connection with the Jamuney land dispute.

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