Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Feb. 23: Police have arrested Amber Dhoj Mangar, more commonly known as Bhutta, in a case which traces its root to smuggling of a huge cache of arms from Nagaland to Darjeeling in 2014.
Bhutta, a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha activist from Chandraloke in Kalimpong, was picked up by Darjeeling police from his residence yesterday. He was produced in the chief judicial magistrate's court in Darjeeling today, said Pankaj Prasad, assistant public prosecutor.
Prasad said: "Joydeep Bhattacharya, the acting chief judicial magistrate, sent him to seven days' police remand. The remand was sought as the police want to find out people who had undergone arms training with a militant outfit in Nagaland and also to trace the huge cache of arms that have entered the hills."
Bhutta, 42, has been arrested in a case related to an FIR filed by the CID on December 6, 2014, at Rungli-Rungliot after a rifle, 22 rounds of live ammunition and five leaflets of an unknown outfit, Gorkhaland Liberation Army, were allegedly found from an abandoned building in 27th Mile, 45km from Darjeeling.
In the case, GTA Sabha member from Glenburn, Sanjay Thulung, has also been named, apart from others. Thulung is currently absconding. Bhutta hadn't been named in the FIR initially but Prasad said his name had cropped up later during the investigation.
The Rungli-Rungliot case has links with an arms haul case in Chirag district of Assam.
On November 8, Assam police had arrested Umesh Kami, said to be member of the Morcha's Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) and Assam-based Ganesh Chhetri with a cache of arms, including one M16 rifle, two Beretta pistols, three .32 bore pistols, 300 rounds of 9mm ammunition, 80 rounds of ammunition of AK-series rifles, 198 rounds of M16 ammunition and 60 rounds of .32 ammunition.
Darjeeling police had on November 17, 2014 also recovered a Tata Safari, which seems to have met with an accident and had been abandoned in Tukvar, Darjeeling.
After the arrest in Assam, the follow-up investigation had led to the Rungli-Rungliot case.
Prasad said: "The owner of the Tata Safari is the arrested Bhutta. A hidden chamber was also found in the car. Umesh Kami and Ganesh Chhetri have revealed that apart from the consignment that was intercepted, two other consignments had been sent earlier. This (impounded) vehicle was also used."
The arms consignment was allegedly sold by the NSCN (Khaplang) group. Three NSCN (K) cadres, Sanjay Chhetri, Rahul Chhetri and Diku Chhetri, have also been named in the Rungli-Rungliot case.
On November 1 last year, Bijoy Thulung, the brother of GTA Sabha member Sanjay, had also been arrested in this case.
"Bijoy Thulung has been granted statutory bail by court as after 90 days of arrest, a chargesheet was not submitted as investigation was going on. Umesh and Ganesh have also obtained bail but as per my information they are still at a correction home in Assam in another arms case," said Prasad.
All the accused have been booked under IPC sections dealing with criminal conspiracy, waging or attempting to wage war against the state, collecting arms with intent waging a war and sedition, apart from Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act (illegal use of arms).
A senior Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader, who did not wish to be named, refused comment.