Now indefinite shutdown called in Darjeeling hills

June 9th, 2008 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 9 (IANS) The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Monday called for an indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills from Tuesday, to press its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state in the region. Earlier, the GJM called a 24-hour shutdown Monday to protest an alleged attack on its members by Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) supporters and members of other political outfits at Naxalbari when they took out a peaceful rally there.

“The shutdown has been peaceful so far. But we came to know that GJM leaders have now called an indefinite shutdown in the hills. We have made adequate police arrangements and have opened public assistance booths across Darjeeling district,” West Bengal Inspector General (North Bengal) R.J.S Nawla told IANS.

“We called the indefinite shutdown in three sub-divisions - Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong - demanding a separate Gorkhaland state. Several tourists also started leaving Darjeeling district after they came to know about the strike,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.

Nawla said the public assistance booths would facilitate tourists who may face trouble during the shutdown.

“Tourists can seek any help from the police at assistance booths in case they face any problem,” he said.

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

The central government in 2005 conferred the Sixth Schedule status on 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 for the hill region.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills witnessed violence for about two years.

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