Less than a week after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) announced that it will join hands with the Bimal Gurung faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in support of the BJP candidate for West Bengal’s Darjeeling seat, the working president of the GNLF Plantation Union wing, J B Tamang, was arrested by the West Bengal Police late on Saturday night.
On Sunday, after Tamang was released on bail, police re-arrested him in another case right from outside court.
Noting that both arrests were over old cases, the GNLF accused the Trinamool government of vindictive politics. Follow more election news here.
“There are cases lodged against J B Tamang in two police stations, Naxalbari and Mirik. The charges against him are trying to obstruct the national highway and obstructing government officials from carrying out their duty. Tamang had planned gheraos of offices in these areas and planned to blockade the highway. He had not taken permission from police for these protests beforehand,” said Darjeeling SP Amar Nath, adding that the cases were lodged in July.
GNLF Steering Committee member Ajoy Edwards said it wasn’t just the timing of the arrests, but the manner in which these were carried out that was objectionable. “In the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness, police arrived at Tamang’s home at 2.30 am when he was home with his wife and child, broke down the door and picked him up… Tamang has been roaming around free in Darjeeling and the surrounding areas and no action has been taken against him so far. Why now? And why like this?… When we were supporting the TMC there was no action against Tamang. Now that we are supporting the BJP, he has been arrested,” said Edwards.
He added that Tamang was vital for the GNLF’s campaign. “He is our man in touch with the grassroots and heads the union that looks after tea workers. He had been holding meetings on minimum wages for tea workers.”
GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba said, “Tamang was produced at Siliguri court on Sunday and we had got him out on bail. But police were waiting for him and, as soon as he was released, he was re-arrested on a case with exactly the same charges but at a different police station. There is no democracy in the Darjeeling Hills.”
SP Nath said, “We followed the law. We filed a chargesheet and the court granted us an arrest warrant. Tamang will be produced in Kurseong court Monday in the second case.”