Kalimpong, Aug. 22: Supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today let themselves in through the rear side and occupied the sprawling bungalow of GNLF leader Dawa Pakhrin, planting flags atop the building and its main gate.
About 50 supporters from the Morcha’s five units in the area entered the compound at Hilltop, 1.5km from here, through a broken boundary wall after the lone policeman appointed by the administration to guard the property refused to open the main gate.
Today’s raid was in response to Morcha president Bimal Gurung’s call to convert all houses of GNLF leaders, who have left the hills, into public properties.
Besides the bungalow, the complex has another under-construction building, both of which were damaged after the Morcha supporters torched them on July 26.
“The two buildings will house the unit’s party office and will also be used as a shelter for people displaced by landslides,” said Goma Rumba, an executive member of the Morcha’s 21 Samasti (constituency) unit. “Later on, the place could also be used by the public to host marriage receptions and conduct funreral ceremonies,” she added.
In Darjeeling, too, attempts are being made to convert the CPM office into a shelter of the Disaster Management and Relief Centre, an NGO, for victims of natural calamities. Earlier this month, Dinesh Gurung, a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader and president of the NGO, had said since the CPM members hardly attended office, he would write to the district magistrate and the superintendent of police for permission to take possession of the building owned by the industry department. The Morcha leader had claimed that his NGO was formed on July 28 and the shelter would be used to house victims of natural calamities and store relief material like tarpaulin.
In today’ operation, Morcha supporters from Atisha Road, Mangaldara, Chalise, Tamanggaon and Bansuripool units, which comprise the DGHC constituency, took part.
“Pakhrin had usurped the property through fraudulent means. This property now belongs to the public,” said Rumba and ruled out returning it to the GNLF leader.
According to the local people, Pakhrin, the GNLF’s Kalimpong branch committee president, had forcibly acquired the property located in the prime residential area of the town when he lorded over the subdivision. “In fact, whether Pakhrin legally owns the property is questionable,” one of them said.
Pakhrin, who fled the hill town along with his family on the day his houses were torched, could not be contacted.
Along with the Pakhrin property, the residences of former civic chief of kalimpong C.K Kumai and GNLF leader Maurice Kalikotey had been torched as Morcha supporters went on the rampage following the killing of one of its supporters in Darjeeling on July 25. The bullet that killed Pramila Sharma had been fired from the house of Deepak Gurung, the branch committee president of the GNLF.