Activists block roads demanding statehood for Darjeeling

February 18th, 2008 - 11:04 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, Feb 18 (IANS) Activists of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Monday blocked roads in Darjeeling district of West Bengal demanding complete statehood and rejection of sixth schedule status granted to the region in 2005. Thousands of GJM supporters also demanded the dismissal of rival hill leader Subhas Ghising of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) as the sole administrator of the caretaker Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

Ghising, who was on his way to Darjeeling from New Delhi, had to halt at Siliguri in the foothills of the Himalayas, the gateway to Darjeeling.

“Thousands of people staged road blockades at all entry points of Darjeeling to obstruct Ghising’s entry to the hills. However, they did not create problem for the tourists and movement of vehicles carrying daily commodities,” West Bengal Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) R.J.S Nawla told IANS.

The GJM, led by Bimal Gurung, is spearheading the movement in the hills to demand a separate state and scrapping of the sixth schedule status for Darjeeling.

The central government in 2005 announced sixth schedule status to the GNLF-led DGHC that ensures greater autonomy to the governing body. But Gurung’s group is demanding complete statehood.

Bimal Gurung was expelled from GNLF for “anti-party” activities.

Meanwhile, Nawla said tourist cars plied as usual and the toy train of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways (DHR) was not disrupted during the agitation.

“We have deployed adequate police force to cope with any violent situation,” Nawla said.

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