Supreme Court on Friday dismissed fugitive GJM leader Bimal Gurung’s petition to seek protection from arrest and transfer all the pending cases against him in West Bengal and order a fresh probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters in the state.
Gurung had moved the top court on November 2017 seeking redressal of his fundamental rights under Article 32 of the constitution.
A bench comprising of justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan who reviewed the case rejected it terming it as inappropriate case of relief.
“It cannot be said to be a case of individual persecution by the state,” the bench said while pronouncing the order.
Gurung’s plea rejection comes as a big boost for West Bengal which has been seeking Gurung’s arrest ever since the violence erupted in Darjeeling in June, followed by a 108 days shutdown in the hills. The heightened level of a crisis was triggered by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to introduce Bangla as the compulsory language in the state-run schools.
Banerjee’s stern action soon led to skirmishes in the region leading the GJM to launch a strike reinstating their demand for a permanent Gorkhaland.
Soon after the turmoil Gurung and his aides went into hiding as the police filed charges of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)against him.
Even the GJM split into two factions one led by Gurung and the other by Binay Tamang who at present also holds the post of the Gorkha Territorial Administration President.
The GJM separated over the demand of the Gurung led faction to continue the shut down in the hills which the rival faction opposed.
“The Supreme Court’s decision is not only good for Bengal, but it is in benefit of the entire country. Over 65 cases are pending against Gurung and he should be immediately arrested. It is a significant victory for the Bengal government,” said Kalyan Banerjee, lawyer and Trinamool Congress parliamentarian.
Last year during the ongoing strike in the hills the apex court had restrained the West Bengal government from taking any harsh actions against Gurung. In his petition, Gurung claimed that he was being politically persecuted by the state government.
However, the Mamata Banerjee government defended her stand to say that there was a list of 53 FIRs pending against Gurung and he was already facing trial in 24 cases.
Friday’s ruling comes as a major boost to the West Bengal government’s efforts to consolidate its control in the hills. It could indicate a major paradigm shift in the region’s political future and a condition of higher stakes in upcoming polls.
Gurung’s arrest in wake of the apex court’s ruling has led to speculations on Gurung’s political future which has gone kaput .
Now with the court’s verdict gone against him, there is a likelihood to revive the statehood demand among the people, which was Gurung’s prime agenda.
With Gurung’s protection plea rejected, the legal and political ramifications of the ruling need to be observed, also if he had planned an insurgency then he might face a severe backlash dumping his career for good.
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