Eyes on Delhi,GJM begins strike in hills

72-hr bandh: GJM men burn 2 vehicles on NH; 10 in custody; schools,markets,tea gardens closed

Written by Express News Service | Kolkata | Published:July 30, 2013 4:20 am

Keeping a close watch on the developments in New Delhi,the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Monday observed the first day of the 72-hour strike called in the hills in support of Gorkhaland statehood.

GJM supporters and workers reportedly set two vehicles on fire on NH-31A,the highway that connects Sikkim with the rest of the country.

Ten GJM men,who were trying to block the NH-31A at Rambi,were arrested,said Superintendent of Police,Darjeeling,Kunal Agarwal.

Thousands of Morcha supporters,including the members of Nari Morcha,were deployed at the pickets set up by the GJM on the national highway. Schools,markets and tea gardens remained closed while government offices,including the office of the district magistrate and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA),recorded around 55 per cent attendance.

Meanwhile,the GJM reiterated that it will officially scrap the GTA as soon as the Centre declares creation of the Telangana state,GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said: “Our party is closely monitoring the development over Telangana in Delhi. The moment the Telangana state would be declared,we would reject the GTA officially. Our president (Bimal Gurung) has already said he would soon resign from the post of chief executive of the GTA. It is an encouragement that people spontaneously responded to today’s strike,which means they are with us and with the Gorkhaland movement.”

Sources in the GJM ranks that Gurung has also told the three GJM MLAs to be prepared to resign in Bengal Legislative Assembly.

GJM MLA Harkabahadur Chhetri said,“All three of us are ready to resign. Whenever our party president would ask us to resign,we will not take a second to send our resignation letter to the Assembly Speaker.”

Tourists,who were not in large numbers given that its not peak season,left Darjeeling Sunday after GMM leaders’ ‘advice’ to do so.

A member of Darjeeling Hotelier’s Association,said,“It is off-season,so there were very few tourists. We are yet to get any cancellation of bookings also. But if the agitation continues,we will not get fresh bookings. This time the common people are with the Gorkhaland movement.”

The anti-Morcha parties,however,have differences with the GJM over the agitation. “The intention behind the strike is not clear. We all want Gorkhaland. But the GJM has called the bandh without scrapping the GTA. Their MLAs are still in the

Assembly.”

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