Citizenship row hits GTA chairman Anit Thapa after Nepalese portal’s claim
- Anit Thapa refuted the portal's claim and claimed it was a conspiracy.
A Kathmandu-based news portal sparked a row in the north Bengal hills on Thursday with a report that claimed that Anit Thapa, chairman of board of administrators of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), is a Nepali citizen.
Thapa, who is also the general secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binoy Tamang faction) refuted the allegations and said: “It is a conspiracy to malign me.”
The Nepali news portal on Thursday morning published news with the heading “India’s leader Nepal’s citizenship.”
In its report, the portal said that Thapa had gone to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 1995. It also claimed Thapa’s Nepali citizenship was issued from Nepal’s Jhapa district in 1994 and he was shown as the son of one Binod Thapa but there was man by that name in the said address. Thapa had stayed in Dubai for two years before he returned to Nepal, the news portal wrote.
Later in the day, Thapa issued a statement saying: “The allegation is baseless and is a conspiracy against me. If anyone can prove the allegation, he can file a case against me. Every time when Darjeeling hills raise the voice in the interest of Indian Gorkhas, conspiracy is hatched to throttle the voice.”
He denied going to Dubai and said: “I went to Sweden and Europe on Indian passport. I was an Indian citizen and I am an Indian citizen.”
For years, Thapa has been accused of holding dual citizenship (of India and Nepal). In January, 2020 the sub-divisional officer of Kurseong in Darjeeling district had issued a general notice asking people to appear before him in connection with the information regarding Thapa’s alleged Nepali citizenship.
The notice was issued with reference to an anonymous letter written to the Union home minister on August 12, 2019 in connection with Thapa’s alleged Nepali citizenship.
“We had conducted the enquiry and had forwarded the findings to the district magistrate,” said Abhishek Chaurasia the Kurseong sub-divisional officer.
While Shashank Sethi, the district magistrate of Darjeeling could not be contacted despite repeated attempts, Chaurasia refused to divulge any details of the enquiry.
The opposition parties in the hills attacked Thapa soon after the news went viral.
Mahendra Chettri, the Gorkha National Liberation Front spokesperson said, “We demand action against Thapa for holding dual citizenship.”
Kalyan Dewan, president of the BJP’s Darjeeling hills district committee said: "The allegation is serious and the onus of proving the allegations false lies with Thapa himself."
Santa Chhetri, TMC's Rajya Sabha MP said: "It is the duty of the government to investigate."
Roshan Giri, general secretary of the GJM (Bimal Gurung faction) said, “We will comment only after consulting legal experts.”
Thapa was one of the main trusted lieutenants of Bimal Gurung who founded the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in 2007 to spearhead the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland in Darjeeling hills.
In 2017, when the Gorkhaland movement had rocked the Darjeeling hills for three months, Thapa and Binoy Tamang joined hands with the West Bengal government that effectively derailed the movement.
The GJM split and Tamang headed the new faction while Gurung went into hiding after being charged under anti-terror law by the Mamata Banerjee government. The state government installed Tamang as the chairman of the board of administrators in the semi-autonomous GTA in September 2017. Thapa became its chairman, after Tamang resigned from the post to unsuccessfully contest a bye-election for Darjeeling assembly seat in 2019.
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