Kurseong, Nov. 28: Five bandh supporters were arrested last night for setting a car on fire on Monday.
Dhiraj Thapa (44), Gautam Lama (40), Kishore Thapa (49), Ranjit Thapa (20) and Mahendra Chettri (24) were produced in the court of the Kurseong subdivisional judicial magistrate and remanded in jail custody.
All five are GNLF supporters and were picked up from Chilauna Dura, below Makaiari Tea Estate, 3km from here. They have been booked under Sections 147, 148 and 307 of the IPC for rioting and attempt to murder. The sections are non-bailable and if proven guilty, the accused may have to serve a sentence of two to 10 years.
The group had also heckled the block development officer (BDO) of Kurseong, Manish Verma, the same day.
The announcement that the bill on the Sixth Schedule has been included in Parliament’s list of business and is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha soon had triggered a spate of bandhs in the hills. The Gorkha Janmukti Mancha had declared a 96-hour bandh to protest against it and was joined by the ABGL. Though the Morcha shutdown was withdrawn after a day, the GNLF called an indefinite strike from Friday after one of its leaders was assaulted.
The Maruti Zen that was set on fire near Saath Ghumti here during the GNLF bandh belonged to Subhod Pradhan, a primary school teacher from Pankhabari.
“Pradhan was going to Methibari near Siliguri to meet his daughter around 10pm. He was accompanied by two of his friends. All three fled the spot when they saw the bandh supporters, who burnt the car,” said Saumit Lepcha, the subdivisional police officer of Kurseong.
Pradhan had filed an FIR with the Garidhura police station yesterday morning.
The confrontation with Verma had taken place more than an hour before the car was burnt.
“Despite a constable accompanying Verma saying that the BDO was inside the vehicle, they abused and punched him. Verma was returning after some official work at Sukna. It was around 8.45pm,” Lepcha added.
Section 144 was lifted from the Kurseong municipal area from six this morning. The area had been under prohibitory orders after a group of women came out in protest against the bandh. The arrival of some GNLF supporters at the same time had added to the tension after which Section 144 was imposed.