Shutdown by Gorkhas paralyses West Bengal’s Darjeeling

June 19th, 2010 - 5:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Darjeeling, June 19 (IANS) Most shops downed shutters and vehicular traffic was sparse as normal life came to a standstill in West Bengal’s Darjeeling Hills Saturday on day one of the indefinite shutdown called by the pro-Gorkhaland Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).
The GJM is on the agitation path in support of a host of demands, including a halt to the harassment of the members of the frontal organisation Gorkhaland Personnel (GLP) by the police.

Few people ventured out on the roads in the three hill sub-divisions - Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong - of Darjeeling district, authorities said.

Following a complaint, the police have asked the GLP - a virtual police force raised by the Bimal Gurung led GJM leadership - to vacate several offices of the hill development body, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

“No untoward incident has happened till now,” said D.P Singh, Darjeeling police superintendent said Saturday afternoon.

In the morning, the GJM activists tried to block the Sevok Bazar area, which leads to National Highway 31A, considered the lifeline of the Himalayan state of Sikkim. However, police quickly swung into action, removed the blockade and arrested the GJM workers.

The GJM, agitating for creation of a separate Gorkhaland state out of Darjeeling and parts of Jalpaiguri districts, had earlier given an ultimatum to the state government that its demands, including transfer of Inspector General of Police North Bengal K.L. Tamta and Kurseong sub-divisional police officer Rakesh Sinha, be fulfilled by 6 p.m. Friday.

The state government has already transferred Tamta, but said it was routine and not linked to the GJM demand.

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