Arrested by the police six days ago, Nikol Tamang, one of the prime accused in the murder of prominent political leader Madan Tamang, escaped from the custody of the State's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at Pintail village near Siliguri in West Bengal's Darjeeling district early on Sunday.

The incident has precipitated a fresh spell of political uncertainty in the Darjeeling hills with the leadership of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), to which Nikol Tamang belonged, calling an indefinite bandh in the three hill subdivisions from the afternoon, alleging that he had been killed in custody.

The agitation that began at 1 p.m. will be intensified unless the authorities can provide proof to the contrary within 12 hours, Benoy Tamang, assistant general secretary, GJM told The Hindu over telephone.

Conspiracy

The GJM's major adversary, the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), has also threatened a bandh from Tuesday unless the CID authorities re-arrest Nikol Tamang by then.

Its leadership accused the “State government of being in league with the GJM” and described the escape “as a conspiracy.”

Madan Tamang was ABGL president when he was killed in broad day light in Darjeeling on May 21.

GJM supporters staged a demonstration in Darjeeling demanding an explanation on how Nikol Tamang escaped.