Indefinite Shutdown Continues In Darjeeling Hills


Darjeeling: Normal life remained crippled in the Darjeeling hills due to the indefinite shutdown, called by pro-Gorkhaland activists, which today entered its 44th day, equalling the duration of a similar stir in 2013.

The situation in the picturesque north Bengal town, which had witnessed violence at the onset of the agitation, remained peaceful today, according to police sources.

Except for medicine shops, business establishments, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges remained closed here.

The ban on internet services, which was imposed on June 18, has already been extended by the district administration till August 4.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had on June 15 launched the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of West Bengal.

The condition of the 12 GJM Yuva Morcha activists who had launched a fast-unto-death at four places — Kurseong, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and Sonada — on July 21 today worsened, prompting district administration to rush team of medical experts to attend on them.

“We also sent a notice that if needed we can take them to hospital. But the GJM supporters have given us a veiled threat that they won’t allow the protesters to be taken to hospital,” Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta told PTI.

“We have said in a notice that if something untoward happens to those who are fasting then those who have stopped us from taking them to hospital will be liable for their death,” she added.

GJM Yuva Morcha president Prakash Gurung said the condition of the activists on fast was “not good” but they were “adamant” on continuing the hunger strike till “our dream of Gorkhaland becomes a reality”.

“They don’t want to go to hospitals and avail treatment offered by the state government,” Gurung told PTI.

GJM supporters took out rallies at Chowkbazar area during the day amid patrolling by police and security forces.

Police and security forces patrolled the streets of the hills and kept a tight vigil at all entry and exit routes.

GJM workers and various NGOs of the hills were also seen distributing food items among the people as food supply has been severely hit due to the indefinite shutdown.

The agitation this year today equalised the 44-day shutdown in 2013 by GJM over the statehood issue.