Darjeeling unrest: Gurung in hiding, police fear arrest may fan violence
Gurung, spearheading the Gorkhaland protests in the Darjeeling hills, went into hiding hours after police raided his office last week.Updated: Jun 21, 2017 23:37 IST
Finding Bimal Gurung, chief of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), is fast looking like searching for a needle in a haystack.
Gurung, spearheading the Gorkhaland protests in the Darjeeling hills, went into hiding hours after police raided his office last week. Since then, violence has gripped the hills as three people have died and scores have been injured. The army is out on the streets as local residents fear a long spell of instability with talks failing and hill parties pressing on their demand for a separate state.
Police say they are doing all they can to find Gurung but privately express fear that arresting him would turn him into a hero and fan further violence. “The state government doesn’t want to take chances to arrest him,” a senior intelligence official said.
Since internet services were snapped, Gurung has changed locations several times, say police. “He is protected and safe wherever he is. All hell will break out if he is arrested,” a GJM leader added. In the mayhem, the GJM chief is missing, and only two video messages of his recorded before the raids is doing the rounds. “I will fight for Gorkhaland until the last drop of my blood,” he says in one.
But his absence has catapulted him to a larger-than-life figure and police say he can find shelter at any person’s house in the hills.
Darjeeling police have conducted a series of raids at possible hideouts but Gurung remains untraced. He is said to be incommunicado, even to his confidantes. “Only a select trusted confidantes are aware of his whereabouts,” a GJM leader said.