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9 ARRESTED FOR BURNING BAICHUNG BHUTIA'S EFFIGY

Sikkim Police has arrested nine people in connection with the burning of an effigy of former India football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia at Namchi in South Sikkim district. The infamous incident occured on June 10. According to police, the accused persons were arrested from Namchi town on June 13 evening.

The accused persons, all of them women are reportedly members of the Dakshin Sikkim Nari Sangh. They held a protest march in Namchi town last week in violation of the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown condemning the former Captain's objection to the construction of a 300-bedded hospital at the cost of Rs 500 crore in Namchi town for which Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang laid a foundation stone on June 5. Bhutia is said to have objected to the construction of the new hospital as it would compromise the famous 'veterinary ground', considered to be the only playground in Namchi.

A video showing the protestors raising slogans like 'Bhaichung Bhutia murdabaad' before setting his effigy on fire at Namchi Central Park Square in South Sikkim has gone viral.

44-year-old Bhutia, who is on a commentary assignment for Euro Football Championship, has released a video message condemning the incident. Bhutia, who is also the working President of the Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP), has clarified that he had never opposed the hospital project per se, but opined that the Sikkim Government could utilise the resources and funds to contain coronavirus pandemic now and built the hospital later on. Bhutia has slammed the misplaced priorities of the Prem Singh Tamang led Sikkim government.

All the arrested persons have been released on bail as sections 188 IPC and 51 of Disaster Management Act are bailable. Police said they will continue hunting for six more persons accused in the case.

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