The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed former Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung's plea for protection against arrest in many cases lodged against him in West Bengal.
Gurung, one of the leaders spearheading the agitation to demand a separate Gorkhaland state, had claimed that he was being politically hounded by the West Bengal government.
Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan however refused to grant relief to Gurung after hearing the state government, which submitted a list of 53 FIRs lodged against Gurung and told the bench that he was facing trial in another 24 cases.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee welcomed the apex court's decision.
"We welcome the court verdict. We want development here and it will continue," she said.
Echoing Banerjee, new GJM President Binay Tamang backed the Supreme Court's decision, accusing Gurung of waging war and committing anti-national activities.
"The Supreme Court has given a verdict. We respect it and welcome it. Whatever documents his counsel had submitted to the court to escapes arrest, have been rejected. He was involved in waging war and other activities that are against the law of the country.
"Therefore, the Supreme Court dismissed his plea and gave a verdict for his arrest on the basis of the grave charges against him," said Tamang, also the chief of Board of Administrators of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The GJM leader had also sought an independent probe into the alleged killings of Gorkhaland supporters in the state.
On November 20, the Supreme Court restrained the West Bengal Police from taking any coercive steps against Gurung.