So far nine persons have been arrested in connection with the murder

One of the prime accused in the murder of prominent political leader Madan Tamang in Darjeeling on May 21 was arrested from the Pulbazaar thana area of Darjeeling district in the early hours of Monday.

Nikol Tamang, a member of the central committee of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), was produced before a local court and has been remanded to 14-day judicial custody, District Superintendent of Police D.P. Singh told TheHindu.

So far nine persons have been arrested in connection with the murder. The arrest was made a day before the seventh round of tripartite talks in New Delhi between officials of the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM leadership, where the proposed regional authority for the Darjeeling hills is to be discussed.

While the development has put in an awkward position the GJM leadership that had earlier denied allegations of its leaders being involved in the crime, Dawa Sherpa, convener of the Democratic Front — a conglomeration of six non-GJM regional parties — said that the arrest “was one step forward” in bringing those behind the killing of Madan Tamang to book.

The Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), a major constituent of the Democratic Front, has accused senior leaders of the GJM, including its president Bimal Gurung and general secretary Roshan Giri, of having “masterminded” the murder.

“A demonstration was held outside the court at the time Nikol Tamang was produced there. The demonstrators were demanding the arrest of the masterminds. The arrested person was only a local agent of theirs,” Mr. Singh added. Mr. Sherpa also said that the Democratic Front is opposed to the proposed administrative set-up for the Darjeeling hills. “This is a matter of investigation,” Mr. Giri said.

In regard to Tuesday's talks, Harka Bahadur Chettri, a senior GJM leader said that his party insists that the set-up being proposed for the region should have within its territorial jurisdiction, Gorkha-dominated areas in the Terai and Dooars region of north Bengal.

“There are matters related to its powers that need to be sorted out also. There are some departments that are being earmarked to be brought within the body with merely administrative powers, when what we are demanding is legislative and financial authority”, Dr. Chettri said.