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A WEST Bengal Police team, led by Kalimpong Superintendent of Police Ajit Kumar Yadav, gave chase to a vehicle carrying Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters and shot dead one of them in Namchi area of Sikkim on Friday, according to an FIR filed by the Sikkim Police. The West Bengal Police had carried out raids in different places in Sikkim, including Namchi and Melli areas which border West Bengal, on Friday, following information that GJM chief Bimal Gurung was to hold a central committee meeting there. The Bengal Police later claimed to have arrested nine GJM leaders wanted for arson and rioting. Dawa Tshering Bhutia, 34, a resident of Pedong, in Kalimpong district of West Bengal, was reportedly shot during these raids.
The Sikkim Police have registered a murder case. Citing eyewitness reports, the FIR, registered at the Namchi police station by Sikkim Police Sub-Inspector Kunchok N Wangdi, lists the sequence of events that led to Bhutia’s death. Addressed to the “Station House Officer, Namchi Police Station, South Sikkim”, the FIR states: “Around 1620 hours today (September 1) , a call book information was received from the Namchi district hospital, wherein medical officer on duty, Dr Sanjay Rai, had stated that one unknown middle-aged person was brought to emergency room by one Lalit Poudyal, resident of Lingsey, West Bengal, with alleged history of gunshot injury at the back. The patient showed no sign of life on examination… therefore brought dead… Later, upon consultation with the doctor, it was confirmed that it was a gunshot injury.”
“Further, I thoroughly examined Lalit Poudyal… I found that four of them, (including) Lalit (47), had come to Namchi to attend a GJM party meeting. The other three who accompanied Lalit Poudyal were Uddhav Poudyal, Arjun Ghimirey, Prakash Dhital (all residents of Lingsey, West Bengal),” states Sub-Inspector Wangdi in the FIR.
According to the FIR, the four, along with Bhutia, left in a “white coloured SUV vehicle” after attending the meeting. “After 15 minutes into the journey, they happened to cross two white SUV vehicles with WB (West Bengal) number plates and police logo… Poudyal informed that in both the vehicles, there were armed police personnel in police uniform and camouflage,” says the FIR.
“While both the vehicles were crossing at Long Khola near Bhanjyang Bazar, one of the police personnel shouted, asking them to stop the vehicle,” it says. “Since the road was narrow and rugged, the vehicle was already moving at a very slow speed… Lalit Poudyal turned his head around to know why they were being shouted at. He saw four armed police personnel had de-boarded their vehicle, and one of the police personnel opened fire at their vehicle. Since the driver was in panic, he did not stop the vehicle as he feared being shot,” says the FIR.
According to the FIR, Lalit Poudyal said that Bhutia was shot on the back. He was taken to the Namchi district hospital, where he was declared dead. “Under the given circumstances, and as per statement by Lalit Poudyal, resident of Lingsey, West Bengal (eyewitness), it is confirmed that the gunshot was fired from the convoy of police personnel headed by SP, Kalimpong. Therefore, the report is submitted for information and taking necessary legal action,” says the FIR.
“During the course of enquiry, police personnel at Bhanjyang PP (in Namchi area) were contacted, wherein they confirmed that a convoy of three vehicles (Bolero WB 20AG 8039, TUV WB 74AP2059 and Scorpio WB 748G4068), all white in colour, had crossed Bhanjyang at around 1520 hrs. That at around 1555 hrs, the same convoy which was headed by SP, Kalimpong, had reported at Namchi police station. On examination of eyewitness Lalit Poudyal, he had stated that the incident had occurred at around 1530 hrs at Long Kolcha, Bhanjyang Road,” it says.
When contacted, Kalimpong SP Yadav declined to comment. “Since an FIR has been registered against my name as SP, Kalimpong, I do not want to comment on anything,” he said. “I have no information of any shooting,” said Anuj Sharma, ADG, Law and Order, West Bengal Police. “An FIR has been registered and we have intimated our Bengal counterparts on the issue. The investigation is on,” said Pratap Pradhan, SP, South Sikkim.