Darjeeling: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's indefinite shutdown begins today; uncertainty prevails in hills

Life was returning to near normalcy in West Bengal's troubled Darjeeling hills as no fresh violence was reported on Sunday, but uncertainty prevailed ahead of beginning of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-called indefinite shutdown.

Countering the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's (GJM) call for indefinite shutdown in the hills, the West Bengal government on Sunday issued an order that all its offices will remain open in Darjeeling and Kalimpong and also made it mandatory for employees to attend work.

"In view of the call given by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for indefinite bandh/strike on and from 12 June, 2017, it has been decided that all state government offices situated in the District of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, including those provided with grants-in-aid by the state government, would remain open and all the employees of those offices should report for duty on each day till the call for such bandh is not withdrawn."

"It has also been decided that no leave shall be granted to any employee on any of these bandh days," said a state government release.

Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, the statement said, has also decided that absence of employees on any of these days will be treated as 'dies non', which will constitute break in service and no salary will be admissible unless in emergency circumstances like hospitalisation of the concerned employee, death in the family among other things.

After the GJM's central committee meeting chaired by its President Bimal Gurung on Saturday, the party leaders threw a virtual challenge to the Mamata Banerjee-led state government to press for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

According to GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri, all central and state government offices — including block development offices, sub-divisional offices and district magistrate offices, banks, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (the hill development body) offices — will be closed as part of the shutdown from Monday.

The strike

About the shutdown, Giri said all central and state government offices — including block development offices, sub-divisional offices and district magistrate offices, banks, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (the hill development body) offices — will be closed from Monday.

However, schools and colleges, transport and tourism — hotels, eateries, shops — will be outside the purview of the shutdown.

Giri said the state government's revenue sources like electricity, mines and boulders will also come under the purview of the GJM's shutdown.

After the GJM's central committee meeting chaired by Gurung on Saturday, the party leaders threw a virtual challenge to the Mamata Banerjee-led state government and pressed for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

After the clash between the police and GJM supporters, the district police launched a search operation.

Five GJM activists have been arrested so far, according to a police official of Darjeeling Sadar police station. The army units which earlier patrolled Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong towns were not seen on Sunday morning.

Tourism affected

Many tourists, who were stuck in the picturesque tourist town, reached Kolkata on Sunday heaving a sigh of relief after tense few days in the hills. The West Bengal government has arranged buses to ferry the tourists free of cost from Sealdah station of Kolkata to their homes.

"We are relieved to be back home. It was a disappointing trip in the hills as we had a harrowing time. The experience was bitter and we lived in fear and could not visit any tourist spot," a tourist said.

GJM president Bimal Gurung meanwhile advised the tourists to leave the hills because of the possibility of "untoward" incidents. GJM general secretary Roshan Giri meanwhile claimed that 44 families who had previously switched allegiance from their party to the Trinamool Congress are back with the Morcha. Trinamool leader in the hills Binny Sharma, however, dismissed Giri's claims.

"There is uncertainty. We do not know what would happen from Monday even though GJM said tourism will not fall in the purview of shutdown. We are planning to leave for Siliguri. Some tourists are also going to Sikkim," a tourist said.

With inputs from agencies


Published Date: Jun 12, 2017 07:15 am | Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 07:58 am


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