West Bengal Tourism Minister Goutam Deb on Saturday accused Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling of “patronising and protecting” Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung, who was “allowed to flee” when Bengal Police went to the neighbouring state to arrest him.

“Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has been patronising and giving protection to Bimal Gurung. Yesterday (on Friday), Bengal police went there to arrest a person (Gurung) who was accused of unlawful activities under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Bengal Police had given prior intimation to the Sikkim police.

“Instead, Gurung was cordoned by the Sikkim Police and allowed to flee. It was unfortunate. We strongly condemn this. West Bengal government will take steps according to the Constitution,” Deb said.

The Trinamool Congress leader’s comments come a day after West Bengal Police arrested at least nine GJM leaders during a raid in south Sikkim’s Namchi on Friday where the party had held its central committee meeting during the day.

However, Sikkim Police has said its Bengal counterparts “did not produce any documents” which led them to “prevent the arrests”.

“It’s not that we did not help them… they did not produce any documents, neither did they have arrest warrants nor any FIR copy. A case was registered against Bengal Police,” said an official from Namchi police station.

Meanwhile, Deb charged Chamling with interfering in Bengal’s internal matter on a previous occasion too.

“Chamling had sent letter to the Central government supporting GJM’s demand for separate state of Gokhaland and in view of that resolutions were taken twice in the Sikkim Assembly earlier,” Deb said.

Deb also reminded Bengal is the lifeline of Sikkim and it protects the small Himalayan state.

The West Bengal Police’s CID on Friday issued look out notices against three GJM leaders, including Gurung, as tension mounted in the northern West Bengal hills following a rift within the Morcha leadership over temporary withdrawal of the indefinite shutdown in the region.

At its central committee meeting in Sikkim on Friday, the GJM expelled its Joint Secretary Binay Tamang and senior party leader Anit Thapa, accusing them of conspiring to derail the Gorkhaland movement.