Kolkata: A day after the Supreme Court passed an interim order restraining the state administration of West Bengal from taking any “coercive" steps against Bimal Gurung in a case in which he has been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, or UAPA, the fugitive Gorkha leader issued a statement on Tuesday saying that he would soon travel to Delhi and seek legal reprieve for other leaders who have had to flee Darjeeling.
Gurung was on Monday suspended as the president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) by Binoy Tamang, the state-backed leader of the Nepali-speaking community, who claimed to have been legitimately elected president of the party by its central committee. Tamang claimed 47 of the GJM’s 93 central committee members attended Monday’s meeting.
Gurung’s close aide Roshan Giri who, too, was suspended as general secretary on Monday, claimed Tamang and his aide Anit Thapa had no authority to take decisions for the GJM because they had been ousted from the party on 1 September for unilaterally withdrawing the strike in Darjeeling without consulting the party’s leadership.
Tamang on Tuesday said the apex court had passed an interim order in respect of only one outstanding criminal case against Gurung in which he had been charged under sections of the UAPA. There are at least 92 other criminal cases pending against him, he claimed, adding that if Gurung had the courage to come out of hiding, he should take a flight to Delhi from Bagdogra airport and not from Nepal.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who held a meeting with Gorkha leaders at Pintail village near Siliguri town—where the agreement conceiving the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was signed—announced that the state will pay a compensation of Rs2 lakh each to the families of those killed during the agitation in Darjeeling since early June.
Those who sustained serious injuries will given Rs50,000 each, provided they did not have pending criminal cases against them. In addition to the cash compensation, the GTA will hire one person each from the families of those killed.
The chief minister also said teachers in schools in Darjeeling will have to work on weekly holidays to make sure they could teach the entire syllabus to make up for the 105-day disruption.
Government officials in Darjeeling, who were forced to skip work for more than three months, will be paid two months’ salary, Banerjee added. The announcements came in the wake of a demand for such relief from Tamang.