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GJM bandh in Darjeeling continues

Marcus Dam

It will be relaxed for 12 hours on Saturday along NH 31A linking Sikkim to the plains

— PHOTO: AJAY SHA

People wait at a Sikkim bus terminal on Thursday on the fourth day of the Darjeeling bandh which has cut off Sikkim from the plains.

KOLKATA: The bandh in the Darjeeling hills that entered its fourth day will continue indefinitely until the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) receives a positive response from the Centre and the West Bengal government to its demand for a separate Gorkhaland, GJM leaders said on Thursday.

“There is no question of calling off the bandh otherwise,” GJM assistant general secretary Benoy Tamang, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

GJM president Bimal Gurung, had earlier asked the people of the region to be prepared for a protracted bandh.

“Mr Gurung, however, announced that the bandh would be relaxed on Saturday for 12 hours from 6 a.m. along National Highway 31A that links Sikkim to the plains, to enable only vehicles registered in that State to pass through,” Mr. Tamang said.

The GJM leadership reiterated that it is willing to sit for tripartite talks on condition that “they be held at the political level and with the single agenda of Gorkhaland.”

“We also demand that the next round of tripartite talks that has been proposed for August 24 be held by August 7 — the last day of Parliament’s monsoon session,” Mr Tamang said.

Normal life continued to remain affected in the sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. Vehicles did not run and shops, commercial establishments and schools remained closed.

Mr. Gurung will be releasing a document titled “Why Gorkhaland,” prepared by the GJM’s “study forum” at a meeting of intellectuals, heads of educational institutions and minority communities in Darjeeling on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sikkim continued to be hard-hit as there was no movement of public transport or private vehicles to and from the State along that stretch of NH 31A that passes through the Darjeeling hills. Only Army vehicles and those belonging to emergency services were allowed to ply.

Concerned over the situation, the Sikkim government decided to ration the sale of petrol and diesel.

State officials have been asked to use their vehicles judiciously and avoid touring as much as possible .

Various agencies have also been instructed to prevent hoarding of essential commodities by wholesale dealers and retail shopkeepers.

They have also been asked to ensure that prices of items are not increased, a Sikkim government official said.

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