Mamata plays with fire in the hills

FP

In the past two years, Bharti Tamang had sent at least seven letters to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seeking an appointment and pleading for a fair investigation into her husband and hill leader Madan Tamang's murder. Not once did the CM get back, till last week.

The Chief Minister's Office (CMO) called up Bharti in Darjeeling on February 4 and asked her to come to Kolkata immediately to meet Mamata. "This is urgent," she was told. Accompanied by her son Sanjog, she met the CM at the Writers' Buildings on February 6. At the meeting, Mamata reportedly expressed regret at not having met them earlier, and said she had committed a "blunder" in extending a hand of friendship to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The family, which has been complaining about feeling insecure in Darjeeling, was also provided security after the meeting ended.

While the Tamangs refused to talk, the closed-door meeting by all accounts revolved around the Tamang murder case.

And the reason is easy to see: As the relationship between the GJM and Trinamool Congress worsens, the case has become one of the most important tools and political bargaining points in Darjeeling's scheme of things.

Any proper investigation in the case is likely to lead to the top GJM leadership. So far, the Trinamool Congress regime has ensured this doesn't happen. Despite the FIR naming several leaders of the party and despite telephone call intercepts indicating their hand in the murder, they have not even been questioned; the state government has not handed over the transcript and the recordings of the conversation between the alleged assailants and senior GJM leaders to the CBI despite repeated requests; and the CBI, which had asked the government's approval to include a CID officer, Ardhendu Pahari, in the chargesheet, is yet to receive any response. The prime accused in the case, Nicole, had fled from Pahari's custody.

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