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16 Jun 2017

No going back now: Gurung

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 15: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung today spoke to The Telegraph over phone from an undisclosed location around 4pm, six hours after his premises were raided.
The following are excerpts:
Won't drop demand
"Mamata Banerjee is trying to unleash terror in the hills, but till my last breath, I will not drop the demand for Gorkhaland. There is no going back now," Gurung said.
"This aspiration of the hill people cannot be suppressed by force and she will soon realise this. The kind of politics she is indulging in is not right. She has created the present volatile situation in the hills," he added.
Cops took away gold
Gurung said he was in the office in Patlabas when the police started arriving in the area between 7.30am and 8am. The raid took place between 8.45am and 10.30am.
"I was in the party office and thought they had come for routine patrolling. Our party office was closed but they broke open the office and stormed not just into the office but also my residence," he said.
"Can you imagine they have taken away my personal belongings like track suits and jackets, along with the gold of my daughter-in-law?"
The Morcha leader questioned if the police had the right to storm into his office or residence.
"Had they wanted to search my office, I would have allowed them. Did the police have the court's permission to break into a registered party's office? To vandalise my house and even burn my vehicles," he asked.
Told that the police had sealed the office, Gurung said: "They illegally entered my office and now they have sealed it. Does the sealing make sense?"
Bow for archery
Gurung agreed that a crossbow was kept in the office.
"I am a sports lover and the crossbow was there for archery and not for any other purpose. The other things like spade and hoes are always there for gardening purposes," the Morcha leader said.
Cash against receipt
According to Gurung, there was around "Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh in cash" in his office.
"Had it been unaccounted for, I would have carried it away when I left the office. These are money collected from party people against proper receipt. There was about Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh in cash," said Gurung.
(For donations more than Rs 2,000, political parties need to issue a receipt with the name and other details of the person donating the money. There is, however, no limit on how much cash can be stashed.)
Appeal to parties
Gurung said: "Things have gone too far. This indefinite strike will carry on. Our delegation will be meeting Union home minister Rajnath Singh today."
He also urged all political leaders in the hills to come forward and join the movement for Gorkhaland. In a WhatsApp video that Morcha workers circulated among journalists, Gurung appealed to even the "chairman and vice-chairman" of different boards to join the agitation.

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