Demand for Gorkhaland: Stress and anxiety cases increase as Darjeeling bandh races towards 100 days | india news | Hindustan Times
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Demand for Gorkhaland: Stress and anxiety cases increase as Darjeeling bandh races towards 100 days

Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison.

india Updated: Sep 18, 2017 23:12 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
A paramilitary officer stands guard during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for separate Gorkhaland in Kalimpong earlier this month.
A paramilitary officer stands guard during an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for separate Gorkhaland in Kalimpong earlier this month. (AFP File Photo)

When political parties enforce a one-day bandh, people usually take it as a holiday and play n the streets. But stretch it to 100, and the results can be depression and stress. Psychiatrists, counsellors and teachers have started reporting cases of stress and anxiety in the north Bengal hills as the indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills race towards the century mark.

Over the past 96 days — the shutdown began from June 15 following a police raid on the residence and office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung — shops and educational institutions, business establishments and entertainment zones have remained closed in the hills turning the hills into a vast open prison. Financial insecurity, political instability and disruption of Internet services have compounded the sufferings of the people.

Dr Nirmal Kumar Bera the head of psychiatrist department, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital said the overall situation in Darjeeling hills have led to increased levels of anxiety and trauma among the masses. “I have started getting regular calls from people in the hills. They complain of stress. They are also feeling isolated. If this is not checked, would lead to grave state of depression,” Bera told HT.

“With everything coming to standstill, and nothing to do outside home, I am feeling traumatic. I always had low blood pressure, but for last couple of weeks I have developed high blood pressure and started taking medicine,” said Sudha Chettri, a teacher in a government-run high school and a mother of two.

“That the agitation is going nowhere despite whole hearted support of people has hurt me a lot. My three children are sitting idle. The essential commodities needed to run the household are almost non-existent. My husband is not getting salary for three months,” said Rita Gurung, a mother of three.

Phurba Tamang, a resident of Kalimpong who is a state government employee does not know what would happen as Dussera the biggest festival of the Gorkhas / Nepalis is round the corner. “Whatever small savings we had are already spent to meet the daily expenses. I have a son who studies in class 12. He has become irritable. The family members are trying their best to cope up with the hardships.”

A duty nurse at Bijanbari block primary health centre said on conditions of anonymity that even 10-11-year-olds have started suffering from high blood pressure, heart burn and head ache.

Dr Bera’s concern is corroborated by two of his colleagues in Siliguri and Gangtok.

“People in the hills are feeling low. A situation of hopelessness, loss and doom have left many psychologically drained,” said Dr Shantanu De, a practising psychiatrist for last 18 years.

Dr C L Pradhan, a psychiatrist based in Gangtok said, “A severely disrupted social life and sense of isolation would lead to anxiety disorders. A shutdown for more than three months is a challenge for anybody. Women are more likely to suffer from stress due to uncertainties of life.”

Pradhan also cautioned that there are strong chances of relapse among psychiatrist patients who could not visit the doctors due to the ongoing bandh.