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KOLKATA: Even as the shutdown continued for the ninth day in Darjeeling hills because of an indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), normal life was also severely affected in the Dooars, in the plains of north Bengal, on Thursday following a call for a bandh by the regional committee of a tribal grouping.
The bandh was called in the Dooars by the regional committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad to foil the ‘padayatra' planned by GJM supporters through the region to Kumani at the border of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts and where GJM president Bimal Gurung is camping.
It will be withdrawn on Friday, the ABAVP leadership decided, after having earlier announced that the bandh would continue indefinitely.
The bandh, however, did not deter a section of GJM supporters from carrying out their programme — though a subdued note — during the day. Some GJM supporters who took out a ‘padayatra' were prevented by the police at Hatipota in the Alipurduar sub-division from proceeding further in the Dooars where prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr.PC are in force.
“We have withdrawn the bandh which was total today [Thursday] from Friday in view of the coming Madhyamik examinations but will oppose any move of the GJM to take out the ‘padayatra,'” president of the State unit of the ABAVP, Birsha Tirkey told The Hindu.
The ABAVP has sought a meeting with West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee when he visits Malbazar on February 19.
The ‘padayatra' programme of the GJM that is to culminate with Mr. Gurung addressing party supporters at Kumani on February 27 will continue till then, the GJM leadership maintained.
“Not to call off”
“We are not calling off the padayatra but have advised our supporters who have been held up at Hatipota not to force their way through the police cordon. We do not want to precipitate a situation that could turn turbulent,” senior GJM leader and member of the party's central committee, Harka Bahadur Chettri, said over telephone from Kalimpong sub-division. As for the bandh in the Darjeeling hills he said that it would continue.
The GJM leadership had called an indefinite bandh in the hills in protest against the police firing that resulted in the death of three of its supporters at Sipchu in the Dooars on February 8.
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