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Kolkata: The chief of Gorkha Territorial Administration (an autonomous administrative set up for the hills), Bimal Gurung, who is also the president of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, the prominent political party in the Hills, his wife Asha, and seven other party leaders in key positions of GTA have been booked by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday in connection with the murder of Madan Tamang, the All India Gorkha League leader, in May 2010.

Tamang was hacked to death in broad daylight in a crowded market of Darjeeling district on 21 May, 2010, allegedly by GJM party men, when the AIGL leader was turning out to be a potential threat to Gurung, who claimed himself to be the undisputed leader, championing the cause of separate statehood issue for the Gorkhas in the Hills.

A CBI spokesperson in Delhi confirming the news said, on condition of anonymity, that Bimal and Asha Gurung, party MLA from Kalimpong, Harka Bahadur Chettry and party’s general secretary, Roshan Giri and five others have been framed on charges of criminal conspiracy for murder, rioting with deadly weapons, committing murder.

The FIR lodged in connection Tamang’s murder had named Gurung and 14 other GJM leaders. However, apart from the arrest of a few, the top leaders could not be touched so far.

Though the state CID was on the job of investigation in the initial stages, the family of Tamang lost all faith in the probe when a prime accused in the Tamang murder case, Nickolas, managed to escape from the CID’s custody and till date is absconding. The CBI took over the investigation in January 2012 at the instruction of the Calcutta high court, which ordered the central agency to probe the disappearance of Nickolas and murder of Madan Tamang.

According to a state BJP leader, who requested anonymity, the ruling parties in the state of West Bengal, be it Left Front in 2010 and 2011 or Trinamool Congress from 2011 May onwards, have used the CID probe against the GJM leaders as a trump card to silence Gurung, whenever he paralysed the Hills in demand for Gorkhaland.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, after coming to power in 2011, conceded to Gurung’s majority of demands. The GTA was formed as agreed upon by Gurung and he was made the chief of the administrative body. Many of the GJM’s demands over financial, executive autonomy were met.

However, the relationship between the two took a bitter turn when in a public meeting of the chief minister in January 2013 in the Darjeeling district, the GJM supporters shouted slogans in favour of Gorkhaland and Gurung supported it.

Later in July 2013, Gurung resigned from the GTA and renewed the Gorkhaland movement, vandalising government property. The GJM called a 34 days general strike. Banerjee responded by arresting 2000 GJM supporters and Gurung was threatened to be arrested on charge of Tamang’s murder case by the Trinamool Congress government.

The CBI charges against the prominent GJM leaders is likely to give Banerjee a long rope to silence Gurung and his erratic demands and quell the disturbances in the Hills.

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