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13 Dec 2017

Cops eye football to win hearts in Gurung bastion

TNN| Dec 12, 2017, Darjeeling: Police may be after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), but are not against the people of Gurung's constituency. Taking a cue from police operations in once-Maoist dominated Jangalmahal, Darjeeling Police has sent an olive branch to Gurung's voters.
Police are organising a football tournament in Tukvar constituency in Darjeeling, from where Gurung was elected as sabhasad of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. The tournament begins from December 15, around two weeks before chief minister Mamata Banerjee's visit to the Hills on December 27.
Darjeeling Police has restricted entry to this tournament to the residents of Tukvar-Goke, Badamtam-Lebong, Pandam-Phubtshering and Pulbazar-Bijanbari constituencies, areas of Darjeeling with a strong allegiance to Gurung. Organizers have asked participants to furnish residential proof like voter ID and Aadhaar cards. "This is to ensure that teams don't get unfair advantage by hiring players from outside. We want only players from the four constituencies to participate," the town DSP said.
Security forces continue to make their presence felt in and around the four constituencies, considered as the GJM leader's stronghold, as Gurung and some of his close aides continue to elude the police. Announcing the tournament, Siddharth Dorji, DSP town on Sunday said, "We have decided to organize a football tournament with participants from four constituencies. The objective of holding the football tournament is to rebuild the police-public relation, which was disturbed recently."
Gurung's house and the main GJM party office is located in Patlebas (under Tukvar constituency) about 3 km down from Singmari to the north of Darjeeling town, where three Gorkhaland supporters were allegedly killed in police firing, in the initial stage of the revived statehood agitation this June.
Police said their intention was to hunt for local talents as football as a sport had a huge following in the Hills. "We will look out for budding talents that are in abundance here. We are also trying to start a football tournament for girls," Dorji said.
The winning team will take home a grand cash prize of Rs 1.5 lakh while the runner-up will get Rs 1 lakh. Constituency-level winners and runner-ups will get Rs 50,000 and Rs 30,000, along with prize money up for grabs for the man of the match and series.

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