Bimal Gurung claims persecution by West Bengal govt, seeks CBI probe into killings of Gorkhaland activists

Gurung's counsel alleged that Mamata Banerjee was opposed to him and sought a CBI probe in the killings of several Gorkhaland activists during the recent agitation for a separate state

PTI November 24, 2017 18:47:43 IST
Bimal Gurung claims persecution by West Bengal govt, seeks CBI probe into killings of Gorkhaland activists

New Delhi: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung on Friday claimed in the Supreme Court that he was being politically persecuted by the West Bengal government, as the state police sought "reversal" of the order restraining it from taking coercive action against him.

Gurung's counsel alleged before a bench of Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was opposed to him "tooth and nail" and has sought a CBI probe in the killings of several Gorkhaland activists during the recent agitation for a separate state.

The West Bengal Police told the bench that the apex court's 20 November order restraining it from taking any coercive steps against Gurung should be vacated, as the "morale" of the entire force was down since there were several cases of serious nature against him.

Bimal Gurung claims persecution by West Bengal govt seeks CBI probe into killings of Gorkhaland activists

File image of GJM chief Bimal Gurung. Getty Images

On 20 November, the top court had issued notice on his plea and said, "in the meantime, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioner".

Senior lawyer AM Singhvi, appearing for the police, said there were a number of cases, including of murder and rioting, against Gurung and a 26-year-old police official was also killed during the recent Gorkhaland agitation.

He argued that details of these cases were not given to the court at the time when the 20 November order was passed and said, "look at what the state will feel. The state will feel that it is impotent as far as this person is concerned".

Singhvi gave a list of 53 FIRs lodged against Gurung and said he was facing trial in another 24 cases as well.

He also alleged that several incriminating materials like AK 47 rifle, live ammunition and bombs were recovered by the police from the activists during the protests.

Senior advocate PS Patwalia, appearing for Gurung, countered Singhvi's submissions and said a number of FIRs were lodged against him which amounted to political persecution.

"It is rather my case that these FIRs are part of political persecution by West Bengal government against me. I am the President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The present chief minister of West Bengal is tooth and nail opposed to me and a separate Gorkhaland," he said.

Patwalia also claimed that 21 pro-Gorkhaland activists were killed during the recent 104-day protest and there should be a CBI investigation into the matter.

When Singhvi referred to the cases lodged against Gurung and said "we want a reversal of the order", the bench observed, "we were not aware of all these cases".

The bench also asked Gurung's counsel to file a reply to the application of the police and posted the case for hearing on 28 November.

"You (police) have levelled allegations (against Gurung) which are serious. So let him file a reply. We will have it on Tuesday," the bench said.

The bench also asked Gurung's counsel to ensure that there is no "public speech" and "demonstration" till then.

The GJM central committee had recently suspended Gurung for six months and appointed Binay Tamang as the party's new president.

The police had earlier claimed that Gurung and some of his aides were absconding after being booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the violence in Darjeeling hills during the recent agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.

Gurung has approached the apex court seeking an independent probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters during the protests.

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