Bangla group’s shutdown call evokes partial response

Monday, January 17, 2011

SILIGURI - Normal life was partially affected in Siliguri in north West Bengal’s Darjeeling district Monday on the second day of the 48-hour shutdown called by the Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Banchao Committee (BOBBBC) protesting the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s (GJM) movement for a separate state.

“The shutdown evoked partial impact in Siliguri and Dooars (foothills of the Himalayas) areas of Jalpaiguri district. No untoward incident has been reported so far as the supporters did not hit the roads to enforce the shutdown,” Inspector General of Police (north Bengal) Ranvir Kumar told IANS over phone.

“The situation is under control and adequate security personnel have been deployed to thwart away any untoward incident,” he added.

However, the BOBBC claimed the shutdown was total.

“The shutdown was total and spontaneous. The people of Siliguri and even from Darjeeling Hills have supported our shutdown call. Offices and business establishments remained closed and no vehicles plied on the roads,” BOBBBC secretary Mukunda Majumder said.

The shutdown was more successful Sunday, when normal life came to a standstill in Siliguri.

To counter the GJM’s phase-wise 27-day shutdown in the three hill sub-divisions of the district, the BOBBC has called the 48-hour strike in Siliguri Jan 16-17, coinciding with a two-day relaxation in its shutdown 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 to Feb 12.

Local sources said the shutdown in the plains of Siliguri has affected the normal life in three hill sub-divisions of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling as the hill people have to depend on Siliguri for getting their provisions.

On the other hand, freezing cold in Darjeeling hills due to Sunday evening’s snowfall also has forced the residents to stay indoors.

Meanwhile, following a clash between the GJM and anti-Gorkhaland pressure group supporters in Jaigaon of Jalpaiguri district Sunday, the Gorkha morcha leadership has decided to relax its shutdown in the Terai (marshy grasslands and forests between the Darjeeling hills and the plains) and the Dooars regions. They will instead hold relay hunger strikes in these areas.

“We will continue the second phase of our shutdown programme from Tuesday demanding Gorkhaland in the hills, besides holding relay hunger strike in Terai and Dooars region. Our senior party leaders will also hold rally from Darjeeling to Dooars to strengthen our demand for Gorkhaland,” the GJM’s press secretary Harka Bahadur Chetri told IANS.

The Bimal Gurung-led GJM has been leading the renewed 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 trade and tourism which provide the bread and butter to the local people.

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