The West Bengal CID (Crime Investigation Department) moved Sikkim High Court seeking custody of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activist Savitri Rai. She is a key aide of GJM’s absconding chief Bimal Gurung.
In September, in what was a major setback to the West Bengal police, a court in Sikkim extended interim bail to Rai. The West Bengal CID appealed to the Sikkim High Court to set aside the interim bail.
The High Court has set December 1 as the next date of hearing and the bench headed by justice meenakshi Rai has asked Rai to file a reply on why her interim bail should not be cancelled and she be handed over to the West Bengal police.
Sources in CID said that the central committee of GJM had a meetig in Namchi area of south Sikkim. A team of Kalimpong police had led a raid to the place in search of the GJM chief. One person was killed in shootout that ensued but Gurung slipped away. The incident led to a major standoff between West Bengal and Sikkim, with the latter accusing the West Bengal police of crossing state boundaries without legal documents and without intimating the Sikkim police.
A part of the raiding West Bengal police team was detained, including the vehicle of the Kalimpong SP. Later the police personnel, as well as the seven other GJM activists they arrested were released without charges. Only Savitri Rai was produced in a Namchi court, which granted her interim bail.
An angry West Bengal administration shot off communications to Gangtok to help nab Gurung and his associates charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The state government formed a legal team of three lawyers each from the Calcutta High Court and the Siliguri court to weigh every possible legal options. Approaching the high court is a strategy framed by that legal team.
Representing CID, advocates Mayukh Mukherjee, Rajdeep Mazumdar and Abhrajyoti Das told the high court, “…the GJM leader has pending cases against her in courts in West Bengal. So for the sake of investigations we are requesting the honourable high court to cancel her bail and hand her over to West Bangal police.”
CID appraised the court that Savitri Rai is one of the key accused in a case of fanning violence during the meeting of the state cabinet in Darjeeling on September 8.
The investigating agency told the court that taking Rai into custody is required in order to reveal more information on the absconding GJM chief. Questioning her could provide inputs about Gurung’s movements, whereabouts, contacts, his present base after his dramatic escape from Singla forest, the court was told.