Shutdown looms as remand nears end – Morcha sets Aug 30 deadline for cops

The Telegraph

Aug. 26: The hills are wary of another indefinite shutdown with the CID drawing a blank on the Nickole Tamang escape probe, and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha setting August 30 as deadline to produce him in court.

The Morcha said it expected the accused, a central committee member of the party, to be produced in court before noon of August 30, when Nickole’s term in police remand ends.

“The police and the CID are expected to produce Nickole Tamang in court on August 30, when the police remand ends. If he is not produced before the court by noon, an indefinite strike will start,” said Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha at a media conference here today.

The Morcha had called the indefinite strike last Sunday after Nickole, who had been arrested by Darjeeling police on August 16, fled from a CID camp at Pintail Village near Siliguri.

However, even five days after Nickole, a prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder case, fled from CID custody, the police hardly have any leads.

Additional director-general of police, CID, Raj Kanojia, who arrived in Siliguri today, said his agency had received phone calls after a reward was announced for information on Nickole. “This is a positive development and our officers are working on these inputs, we expect a breakthrough very soon,” Kanojia said.

The Morcha, while announcing a two day relaxation in the indefinite strike on Wednesday, had said the continuation of the bandh would be decided upon today. People in the hills spent the entire day in uncertainty, and the Morcha announced late in the afternoon that the relaxation would extend till the noon of August 30.

The 48-hour strike relaxation had been provided following an assurance from the Darjeeling district police that there had been no foul play in Nickole’s disappearance. The Morcha had claimed that Nickole had probably died during interrogation and that the police were trying to hush up the incident by staging the “escape drama”.

With the uncertainty now looming, almost all the residents are being forced to keep every future schedule in abeyance.

“Travelling plans have gone haywire. We cannot even tell people who are coming from distant places to cancel their visit,” said a resident of Darjeeling.

Tourism industry, which is the backbone of the town economy but one of the most sensitive industries, has also been hit hard.

“Even though this is not a peak season, tourists always trickle to the hills. However, with this uncertainty we are bound to lose even on this little inflow which is important to sustain our business,” said a hotelier.

Even if the strike commences from August 30 noon the duration is not yet known as the Morcha has talked about an “indefinite” shutdown. Apprehending a fresh flare-up in the hills after Nickole’s disappearance, the state government had asked for three companies of CRPF. However, the Centre today, reports PTI has agreed to send two.

“The state government had requested the Centre to give three additional companies of CRPF to Darjeeling, but they have agreed to send two companies for the hills,” PTI quoted home secretary Samar Ghosh as saying.



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