GJM shutdown cripples life in Darjeeling hillsBy IANS
Thursday, January 13, 2011
DARJEELING - Shops and business establishments were closed in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Thursday, the second day of a 27-day shutdown called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to press for a separate Gorkhaland state, police said.
Life came to a virtual standstill in the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. Roads were deserted as most vehicles did not ply.
“Barring some untoward incidents, the situation is peaceful. Adequate security arrangements have been made. So far, two vehicles loaded with GJM supporters were seized from Malbazar area for breaching norms while enforcing the shutdown,” said Darjeeling Superintendent of Police D.P. Singh.
A huge contingent of police has been deployed on the National Highway 31A connecting West Bengal with Sikkim. Police are also clearing road blockades set up by GJM supporters.
“The shutdown was total and successful in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The shutdown is spontaneous where Morcha supporters are present,” GJM press secretary Harka Bahadur Chetri told IANS.
“In the Terai and Dooars regions, the shutdown evoked partial response because of the presence of the Adibashi Bikash Parishad supporters, who are opposing the shutdown,” he added.
“Around 50 of our supporters enforcing shutdown were arrested so far. Police are trying to tarnish our image by arresting Morcha supporters, alleging that they were creating tension in the area,” Chetri said.
The GJM has decided to call the 27-day strike in phases. The first phase of the strike from Wednesday ends Jan 15. The second phase will be between Jan 18 and Jan 25, and the third and final phase from Jan 29-Feb 12.
The Bimal Gurung-led GJM has been leading the Gorkhaland agitation for over two years by sidelining the Gorkha National Liberation Front, which was spearheading the movement since the 1980s.
The GJM called several indefinite shutdowns in the hills between 2008 and 2010, severely hitting timber and tourism - the bread and butter of the hills people.