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GTA chairman Pradeep Pradhan held on charge of selling fake antiques

DARJEELING : Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabha chairman Pradeep Pradhan was arrested from a hotel in Siliguri on Tuesday night while trying to sell fake antique coins to a businessman from Jalpaiguri district. Originally hailing from Kurseong sub-division, Pradhan was elected to GTA as sabhasad from the Poobsering-Pandam constituency in Darjeeling. He is also the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) vice-president. According to police sources, a complaint was lodged at the Pradhannagar police station by Rabi Kirtanya, a businessman from Jalpaiguri, who alleged Pradhan was trying to sell him fake antique coins. “Yesterday night Kirtanya lodged a complaint naming Pradhan as the one trying to sell him fake coins. Acting on the complaint we arrested the Pradhan and 10 others from a hotel,” the source said. The others arrested are Subash Lama, Dipen Chhetri, Sajan Tamang, Deep Thapa, Sachin Biswakarma, Surya Bhakta Adhikari, Sanjiv Mitra, Rabi Giri, R.P.Gautam and Nirmal Das. 

The source said Pradhan had valued the antique coins at Rs.13 lakh and the buyer had already paid an advance amount of Rs. 50,000. “The businessman had already paid Pradhan an advance. However, on Tuesday, the buyer had brought a person from Kolkata who reportedly was an expert in antique coins. The expert on close look immediately told the businessman that the coins were ordinary ones. The buyer on the pretext of getting the rest of the money reached the police station and lodged a complaint against the GTA Sabha chairman,” the source said. Siliguri Commissioner of Police Manoj Verma said 11 persons including Pradhan had been arrested for trying to sell fake antique coins. Pradhan and his accomplices were booked under sections 120B and 420 of the Indian Penal Code. The accused were produced in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate, Siliguri, on Wednesday. Pradhan and eight others were sent to judicial custody for 14 days while, Biswakarma and Mitra were given five days’ police remand. 

GJM president Bimal Gurung who was in Kalimpong during the day to welcome to GJM 200 defecting families from the Trinamool Congress and the Gorkha National Liberation Front said he would first make inquiries before commenting. “I only heard about the arrest while on my way to Kalimpong, today. I will first make enquiries to know the truth and only then will I comment However, if the arrest is politically motivated than I will act accordingly,” he said, when asked. GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang fered that the arrest was motivated to derail the party’s agitation for a separate state. “Everytime we plan an agitation for Gorkhaland such incidents takes place. It seems it’s a ploy to derail our Delhi dharna program. We are hearing that chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be in Delhi on March 9 to meet the Prime Minister,” he said adding that the GTA Sabha chairman and one another person had gone to Siliguri to arrange for the travel and logistics of the nine-day dharna in Delhi. 

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