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24 Jul 2017

Gurung asked to appear in Calcutta court today

TT, Calcutta, July 23: The CBI today served notices on Bimal Gurung and other top Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, asking them to appear in a Calcutta court tomorrow in the Madan Tamang murder case as directed by the high court.
Sources in the Morcha said the notices could not have come at a worse time as the leaders were in the midst of the Gorkhaland movement and faced prospects of arrests in cases related to the recent flare-up in the hills.
The notice issued by B.K. Pradhan, the deputy superintendent of police, CBI (Special Crime Branch) and dated July 21 states that as per the order issued by Calcutta High Court on July 19, the accused are "directed to appear before the Ld. Chief Judge, City Sessions Court, Bichar Bhawan, Calcutta on 24.07.2017 at10.00am".
Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League president Madan Tamang had been hacked to death in Darjeeling on May 21, 2010.
Apart from Gurung, other Morcha leaders like Roshan Giri, Binay Tamang, Lt Col (Retd) Ramesh Allay and the Jan Andolan Party's president Harka Bahadur Chhetri were also named in the Tamang murder charge-sheet filed by the CBI.
They were all given notices to appear in the court tomorrow.
The Morcha leaders moved two petitions before the sessions court in Calcutta, one for consideration of charges and the other for permission to allow them to be represented through lawyers during the trial. In June, the judge said both the petitions could be heard on July 24.
On July 19, a high court division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre directed the CBI to serve notices on the accused, asking them to appear in the sessions court on Monday. The high court also directed the city sessions judge to frame charges in the case by August 17.
The order, read with a separate directive by another division bench of the high court in December, could mean that the Morcha top brass and Harka would be in Calcutta from the middle of next month till the trial is over.
The July 19 order was given while the court was hearing two public interest litigations on the current unrest in the hills.
The Morcha leadership is keeping its card close to the chest and has not disclosed their strategy on whether they will appear in the court in person tomorrow.
"Ideally, Morcha leaders don't want to be in Calcutta as there are chances that they will be arrested in other cases pending against them. Ignoring the notice could also lead to issuing of fresh warrants," said a legal expert.
The Morcha leaders couldn't be contacted.
There are strong indications that the Morcha's legal cell is trying to explore options through which at least the top leaders can be exempted from personal appearance.
"The Morcha's lawyers could plead that the CBI served notices less than 24 hours before they were to appear in court," said a lawyer who is not involved in the case.
The CBI notice, however, states that the proceedings on July 24 had been fixed earlier and the Morcha leaders were informed about the same by the trial court.
"With the leaders in Calcutta, it would not be as easy for the Morcha to carry on with the agitation in the hills. This is particularly because the Morcha or the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee have not yet come up with a specific strategy as to how they would carry out the movement further. Absence of leaders at this point of time will affect the agitation," an observer said.
Yesterday, however, Harka Bahadur Chhetri had claimed that the movement was being led by masses and it wouldn't be hit even if leaders were absent because of some legal issues.
Channel sealed
Siliguri metropolitan police on Saturday night sealed the corporate office of ABN News Network, the only Nepali satellite channel in India.
A team from Bhaktinagar police station entered the office on Sevoke Road in Siliguri and sealed it after an hour-long search.
The channel is registered with the Union ministry of information and broadcasting. The police also issued a notice to Swapnanil Chatterjee, the CEO and Tulsi Rahaman, the human resource manager of the company, for their appearance before the investigating officer. The notice says a case was registered against the channel based on a complaint.
"We fail to understand what made police and the administration take such a step. We have always been working neutrally and reporting facts," Chatterjee said.

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