Wife of GJM leader and Kalimpong councillor Barun Bhujel — who had died at a hospital while in judicial custody — has written to Prime minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, appealing for an impartial probe. Bhujel (40), who was arrested in June during the 104-day indefinite strike in the Hills for Gorkhaland, died at SSKM hospital here on Wednesday. The letter, which was sent on Friday by Bhujel’s wife Sabita, alleged that he died under “mysterious circumstances” and claimed that he was healthy before his arrest. “We are writing one letter after the other to the authorities. This time we have written to the prime minister and Union home minister for an impartial probe. We believe that it is planned neglect and ill treatment, which caused my son’s death,” said Bharat Bhujel, Barun’s father. Earlier, the family had written to the National Human Rights Commission and IG prisons (West Bengal), demanding a probe into the death.
In her letter to the prime minister, Sabita had called for an evaluation of the postmortem report by an independent team. She had further appealed for a special investigation into Bhujel’s arrest, detention and death in custody. She also wants the investigation report to be submitted at the earliest. Sabita alleged in the letter that her husband had been “left to die through ill treatment and neglect”.
“There are a number of mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of my husband Barun Bhujel that point a finger of suspicion at very high levels, which calls for an immediate probe into the matter,” the letter read.
Bhujel, councillor of ward 16 of Kalimpong municipality, was arrested in connection with violent activities related to the demand for a separate state. He was initially lodged at Siliguri jail. Later, when he developed ailments, he was admitted to North Bengal Medical College Hospital. When his condition became critical, he was shifted to SSKM hospital in Kolkata. The death had sparked fresh unrest in parts of the Hills, specially Kalimpong, which had been a stronghold of GJM chief Bimal Gurung. Gurung, who is in hiding and wanted in a number of cases, was prompt in condoning the death and asking people to hit the streets in protest.
“Our brother Barun was one of the first to be arrested by police from Kalimpong. I mourn his death and respect his supreme sacrifice for the fight for Gorkhaland. I share my condolences with his family members. It was police torture, which ultimately led to his death,” Gurung had said in an audio message from an undisclosed location. “I call up on all Gorkha brothers and sisters to hit the streets in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Terai and Dooars. Gorkhas all over should protest against such human rights violations. I appeal to everyone to observe a day of mourning and shut down.”