The City Sessions Court on Saturday issued arrest warrants against some of the top leaders of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), including the party’s president and chief of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Bimal Gurung in connection with the murder of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang. Meanwhile, a cornered GJMM leadership has begun exploring methods of seeking an appeal before a higher court.

The warrants have been issued against a total of 23 people whose names were mentioned in the final charge sheet that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed before the court on 29 May.

Acting Chief Judge Gopal Karmakar of the City Sessions Court has directed an officer of superintendent rank of the CBI to execute the order by 26 June and to place a report before the court on the arrest of the 23 persons on the same date.

On Saturday, the CBI lawyer, A K Bhagat, submitted before the court that already five years have passed after the incident and the victim’s family members are awaiting justice. He pleaded before the court to issue arrest warrants against the persons whose names are in the charge sheet as their interrogation is needed for further investigation.

The defence counsel, Sayan De, submitted before the court that the victim’s wife had moved the Supreme Court earlier. Henceforth the charge sheet should also be submitted before the Supreme Court.

The apex court will give direction in this regard. "We don’t know whether CBI has submitted the charge sheet before the Supreme Court as it is closed till 30 June." De later said that they would move a higher court challenging Saturday’s order. It may be mentioned that besides Bimal Gurung and his wife Asha Gurung, the CBI’s final charge sheet also contains the names of Binoy Tamang, assistant general secretary of GJMM, Harka Bahadur Chhetry, GJMM MLA, Pradeep Pradhan, vice-president of GJMM and chairman of GTA and Roshan Giri, general secretary of GJMM. They were booked under several sections of the IPC including charges of criminal conspiracy for murder and rioting armed with deadly weapons.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet against the Hill leaders on 29 May. Madan Tamang was murdered during a public meeting in the Upper Clubside area of Darjeeling on 21 May 2010.

Regean Lama, a member of the GJMM legal cell, said that they are consulting lawyers in Kolkata. “We will decide on our next course of action in two days,” he said.

There was a buzz across the Hills that GTA executive member Anit Thapa would be made “interim GTA chief,” following the developments on Saturday. However, another GTA member and GJMM leader Yogendra Rai rubbished the ‘rumours’, and said any decision will only be taken after GTA members hold a meeting in Darjeeling tomorrow. “Though we respect the honourable court&’s orders, we feel there is a big conspiracy being hatched against our Gorkhaland demand,” Rai said.

Bharati Tamang, the president of the AIGL and wife of the late Madan Tamang, said: “Truth always emerges victorious. We are okay with the court&’s order.”

The Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists said the general public should not suffer on account of these developments . “The Bengal government should take the responsibility of maintaining peace in Darjeeling Hills at this time,” CPRM spokesperson Govind Chettri said.

The convener of the newly-formed Democratic Front of Opposition parties in the Hills, Pratap Khati said: “We welcome the court&’s order and it was expected. We demand the immediate arrest of the accused.”

Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Mahendra Chhettri said the GTA has to be dissolved now.