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GJM's indefinite bandh cripples life in Darjeeling

July 13, 2009 20:45 IST
Life came to a standstill in all three sub-divisions of Darjeeling district on Monday due to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's indefinite bandh called to press for a separate state and other demands.

The bandh, which was scheduled to begin from 12 noon on Monday, was delayed by an hour to allow last-minute purchase of essentials by people across the hills.

GJM publicity secretary Benoy Tamang said movement of vehicular traffic was relaxed to enable stranded tourists and students to leave the hills.

All shops and business establishments were closed and employees left their offices early, the police said. Tamang said the GJM would continue the bandh till its demands were met as the hill people had a sufficient stock of essentials.

According to government officials, there are not many tourists in the hills at present as most of them have already left.

The authorities of residential schools in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong have decided to keep their hostels open as it is, they feel, difficult for them to send outstation students escorted.

Centre for tripartite talks

Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday suggested to the West Bengal government that a tripartite meet, involving the two governments and the GJM, could be held on August 24 for talks regarding creation of a separate Gorkha state.

The Centre has asked the state government to communicate the proposal to the GJM and convey back the response to it.

"The Union government has suggested to the West Bengal government that the tripartite meeting could be held on August 24. The Centre also told the state government to communicate the message to the GJM," a senior home ministry official said.

A delegation of the GJM, led by Bharatiya Janata Party Member of Parliament from Darjeeling Jaswant Singh, had met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on June 15 in New Delhi seeking immediate talks involving the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM representatives to pave way for creation of the new state.

The last tripartite meeting between the three stakeholders took place on December 29 last year where it was decided to take forward the talks after the Lok Sabha polls.

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