It is a trying time for state government employees of the Darjeeling hills.
Caught between the devil and the deep sea there is very little that employees can do to evade the situation.
The state government employees have had very little scope to attend office since the renewed agitation for Gorkhaland.
Initially it was the picketers when the GJM-called bandh was going under the name of a bandh.
At present with different avatars of bandhs namely Janta Curfew (public curfew,) Jhar Bhitra Janta (public to remain indoors) and Janta Sadak Ma (public on the streets) it is equally difficult for the employees to attend.
Though the agitators have said that there will be no picketers they have not failed to add that all supporters of the Gorkhaland movement will stay away from offices expressing solidarity with the movement.
Caught in this tricky situation none of the government employees have dared to venture to the offices from fear of being ostracised or being dubbed anti-Gorkhaland.
Except for the executive magistrates even the district collectorate bears an empty look.
Meanwhile, the state government has started a crackdown on all absentees.
They have been served show cause notices with threats of salary deductions.
An administrative source said that replies of show cause notices are coming in.
“Most of the replies have talked of threat perceptions. We will go through each case individually and then decide,” said the source.
“Though the government has assured us security, can it provide each employee and their family members security? The higher-ups will be transferred after their tenure is over but what would be the fate of the residents of the Hills who work in the Hills? We can’t take chances. We would rather bear the salary cut,” said a government employee.
The central government employees too are not attending office but are in a more comfortable position than state employees.
With no such stricture from the Centre, most of the central government organisations remain shut in the Darjeeling Hills.
Darjeeling Hills observed “Ghar Bhitra Janta” (public to remain indoors in support of Gorkhaland) on Monday.
Shops, business establishments, education institutes remained closed.
Vehicles did not ply.
Medical services, emergency services, tea and cinchona plantations were exempt from this political programme.
From August 19-23, the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) spearheading the Gorkhaland movement has given a call for “Janta Sadak Ma” (public to come out in streets, organise rallies in support of Gorkhaland).
However, shops, business establishments will remain closed on these days too.