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Gorkhaland slogan raised at funeral of GJM councillor, Bimal Gurung’s photo returns to Kalimpong office

Surprising the district administration, thousands of Gorkhaland supporters raised pro-Gurung slogans on Friday when Barun Bhujel’s body was taken to the burial ground

kolkata Updated: Oct 27, 2017 21:26 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times
Gorkhaland,Darjeeling,Bimal Gurung
Bimal Gurung, head of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha , speaks at a news conference during the 20th day of an indefinite strike called by GJM in Darjeeling on July 4, 2017.(AFP)

The famous Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) flag bearing party chief Bimal Gurung’s photo returned to the outfit’s office in Kalimpong town on Friday as thousands mourned the death of local leader Barun Bhujel (42) in judicial custody.

Bhujel, a two-time councillor from Kalimpong, was arrested on June 16. He died at SSKM Hospital in Kolkata early on Wednesday. He was known to be a close associate of Gurung.

Read: Bandh returns to Kalimpong as GJM councillor dies in judicial custody

The flag as well a framed photograph of Gurung were removed from the GJM’s Kalimpong district committee office by supporters of expelled leaders, Binoy Tamang and Anit Thapa. They were appointed chairman and vice chairman of the board of administrators in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) by the state government after Gurung went into hiding as he was charged under several sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Surprising the local administration, thousands of Gorkhaland supporters raised pro-Gurung slogans on Friday when Bhujel’s body was taken to the burial ground.

The GJM called a bandh in Kalimpong after Barun Bhujel, a two-time councillor of the municipality, died. ( HT Photo )

Sabita Bhujel, wife of the deceased, submitted a memorandum to Kalimpong superintendent of police Ajit Singh Yadav demanding “high-level enquiry” into the death. Copies of the memorandum were sent to the Prime Minister, Union home minister, chief minister and chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

Biren Bhujel, the councillor’s brother, had earlier alleged that Barun was tortured in police custody and denied treatment in jail. Gurung, too, alleged that Barun was tortured to death. Police however rubbished the charges and said Barun was suffering from liver and pancreas ailments.

Read: Massive manhunt for Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling hills: Police

In a parallel development, Prakash Gurung, president of Gorkha Jankukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM), the youth wing of GJM, was removed from his post on Friday. Prakash, who is known to be close to Bimal Gurung, is also in hiding.

Manoj Shankar, president of the GJM Delhi unit who was arrested by the CID in Delhi on Wednesday, was produced before a local court on Friday. He was sent to police custody.

Read: Wise after cop was shot dead in Darjeeling, Bengal police to buy modern protective gear

The state BJP meanwhile continued to support Bimal Gurung. Dilip Ghosh, Bengal BJP president, said in Siliguri that Gurung was the “real leader of the hill people.”

“You cannot make a leader or remove a leader by force. Trinamool Congress is trying to make Binoy Tamang the leader of the hill people by using the police. But people will not accept him,” Ghosh told the media.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 21:26 IST