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By A Newsman

Siliguri, 01 September: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) cadre was shot dead and six leaders arrested after a police team from Bengal raided a private resort at Namchi in South Sikkim district today afternoon where GJM chief Bimal Gurung was holding a central committee meeting.

Pratap Pradhan, the South Sikkim senior superintendent of police, said that circumstantial evidence suggests that GJM cadre Dawa Bhutia (34) of Merong Gaon, Kalimpong, died of bullets fired by the Bengal police team. He said that a murder case has been registered at Namchi police station against unnamed people for killing Bhutia.

Pradhan also said that Sikkim police have not allowed the Bengal counterpart to take away the six arrested GJM leaders, as going by the law, Bengal police will have be get a transit remand from a court in Sikkim.

Sources in Sikkim police said that a police team from Kalimpong district (Bengal) entered Namchi (45 km) through the Rangpo check post around 3 pm today. Soon they straightway launched an operation to nab Bimal Gurung, who is wanted in several cases of violence in Darjeeling Hills over the past three months, without any prior information to Sikkim police.

Gurung at that time was holding a meeting of the party’s central committee at a private resort near Sadam in Namchi to discuss the ouster of party’s assistant secretaries Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa whom he accused of entering into an understanding to derail Gorkhaland agitation.

The sudden raid by the Bengal police caught everyone by surprise, but some GJM cadres who were posted outside the resort put up a resistance. They allegedly opened fire, making the Bengal police retaliate. In this exchange of bullet, Dawa Bhutia got killed. Bengal police have not yet admitted to the encounter.

Getting to know of the encounter at Sadam, a Sikkim police team from Namchi rushed in and intervened. Taking advantage of this, Gurung as well as most other senior GJM leaders managed to flee.

Bengal police could arrest only six GJM leaders and cadres from the spot. But as they were being taken away, the Sikkim police stopped them and demanded to produce a transit remand. The six, which includes a woman, were then taken to Namchi police station by Sikkim police and have been kept under detention.

The Bengal police team, which was reportedly led by Kalimpong superintendent of police Ajeet Singh Yadav, left Namchi without taking the six. But as they were travelling back to Kalimpong around 5 pm, Sikkim police stopped their three cars at Melli police station. This made the Bengal police team to abandon the cars and enter Bengal area on foot.

In a message, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri has confirmed that deceased Dawa Bhutia was his party cadre. He did not clarify what Bhutia was doing at Namchi.

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