Darjeeling hit by transport strike

October 22nd, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Siliguri, Oct 22 (IANS) Traffic movement on two key national highways in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district, including one considered the lifeline to Sikkim, was affected Wednesday as a 72-hour transport strike called by Left wing trade union Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) came into force.CITU, the Communist Party of India-Marxist’s (CPI-M) labour wing, called the transport strike protesting against the non-cooperation movement of the pro-Gorkhaland Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), which is demanding a separate state in the region.

The strike affected the National highway-31A, the gateway to neighbouring state Sikkim, and National Highway-31 that heads towards Kalimpong sub-division in the district.

Police said some CITU supporters damaged a car with a GL (Gorkhaland) number plate when it was entering the plains Wednesday morning.

CITU supporters also barricaded three different entry points in the plains - Khaprail Bazaar under Matigara police station, Sukna under Pradhan Nagar police station area and at Bhaktinagar - obstructing trucks, passenger cars and goods vehicles to enter the Darjeeling hills from Siliguri sub-division.

“We’d decided to go on an indefinite transport strike but later we cut it short and called just a 72-hour transport shutdown in the district. We strongly condemn the movement of GJM as they are putting up Gorkha Land (GL) signs at all government offices and on the number plates of vehicles,” said Ajoy Chakraborty, CITU state secretariat member and Darjeeling District Taxi and Private Car Drivers’ Union president.

He said: “We’ll not allow any vehicles to enter plains with GL number plate and will also obstruct all vehicles, including trucks, passenger cars and hired tourist vehicles, going to Darjeeling from the Siliguri sub-division.”

Demanding immediate action against the agitators, Chakraborty said the district administration and the state government should immediately take adequate measures against the GJM supporters for creating trouble in the region.

“The situation is under control now. We’ve deployed police force at different points to keep a tab in the plains,” Darjeeling district additional police superintendent Gaurav Sharma said.

He said no untoward incident has been reported so far in the district.

The GJM, led by its president Bimal Gurung, has been spearheading a movement in the hills demanding a separate state and also opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling.

The central government in 2005 announced the Sixth Schedule status to the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) that ensures greater autonomy to the governing body. But Gurung’s group, which is opposed to the GNLF, is demanding full statehood.

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