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Trouble in Darjeeling, tourists told to leave

india Updated: Jun 10, 2008 01:35 IST
Amitava Banerjee

Turning their token strike over their demand for Gorkhaland on Monday into an indefinite strike, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has asked all tourists to leave the Darjeeling Hills and Sikkim before 6 am on Tuesday.

Starting Tuesday, the three hill sub-divisions will witness an indefinite bandh. However, the tea and cinchona industry will be closed for just two days, and will be open from June 12.

“The bandh will continue till the Centre calls us for talks in Delhi and that too for Gorkhaland. We will meet over no other issue except Gorkhaland,” said GJM chief Bimal Gurung. He stated that, henceforth, the GJM would not seek the permission of the administration to hold rallies and meetings anywhere.

Following the GJM’s advisory, tourists were seen trying to make arrangements to leave the hills immediately. The rush for vehicles turned into a stampede-like situation at the bus and taxi stands.

With a heavy shortage of vehicles due to the token bandh and lack of fuel (being a Sunday), most tourists could not leave at once. Sarvesh Dikshit of Kanpur, who arrived on Monday, said: “This is very disappointing. We don’t know where to go. There is no food, no transport. Our kids are hungry. We have nothing to do with politics but we should not be given such trouble. I request the administration and political party to come to a settlement and resolve the issue so innocent people don’t suffer.”

Gurung gave the bandh call after sporadic violence in Bagdogra and Naxalbari between the GJM and an apolitical group, Janchetna Manch, opposing the former’s demand.