Bangla group’s shutdown in Siliguri cripples life

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SILIGURI - Normal life came to a standstill in Siliguri in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Sunday on day one of a 48-hour shutdown called by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee (BOBBBC) protesting against the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s (GJM) movement for a separate state.

“The shutdown was spontaneous and peaceful in Siliguri sub-division barring some stray incidents. So far we have made preventive arrests of 13 BOBBBC supporters including its secretary Mukunda Mazumder,” said Additional Police Superintendent (Siliguri) Gaurav Sharma.

To counter the GJM’s phase-wise 27-day shutdown in the three hill sub-divisions of the district, the BOBBC has convened the 48-hour shutdown in Siliguri Jan 16-17, coinciding with a two-day relaxation period announced by the GJM.

The GJM has called the 27-day strike in phases. The first phase of the strike from Wednesday ended Jan 15. The second phase will be between Jan 18 and Jan 25, and the third and final phase from Jan 29-Feb 12.

Local sources said as the three hill sub-divisions - Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling - have to depend on Siliguri for importing essentials, the BOBBBC has decided to observe shutdown during the relaxation period announced by the GJM to put pressure on its leaders.

The sources said after a four-day shutdown, most people had depleted stocks of food and other essentials.

“BOBBC has no business to interfere in our democratic rights. Separate Gorkhaland was our long demand so we will continue with our 27-days phase-wise strike even if Siliguri remains closed for over one month. We have found out an alternative market to buy our essential goods,” GJM’s press secretary Harka Bahadur Chetri told IANS over phone.

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 local people.

Filed under: Politics

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