As stranded tourists, shut shops and sporadic incidents of arson marked the second day of the indefinite bandh called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills, the Centre on Friday held back additional paramilitary personnel who were supposed to be sent to Darjeeling till the West Bengal government sends a report on the situation there.
The 400 additional personnel, whom the Home Ministry had on Thursday decided to send to Darjeeling on a request from the state government, will not be dispatched immediately.
“We will take a decision on sending additional paramilitary forces only when we make an assessment of the prevailing situation… It is possible only when we receive a report from the state government,” a home ministry spokesperson said.
On June 13, the Centre had sought a report from the West Bengal government on the situation in the hills, where GJM has launched a movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Around 1,000 central paramilitary personnel, including 200 women, have already been deployed.
Hundreds of tourists were seen stranded on Friday morning at Darjeeling’s Chowk Bazar area. Advised by hotel owners to leave, families were seen waiting in long queues for any mode of transport to Siliguri. The closure of shops had led to a shortage of food and water.
“We are from Canada. We came here a week ago. Now, we are waiting for some mode of transport to Siliguri so that we can take a flight to Kolkata. We were not prepared for this,” said Allan, who was waiting at the bus stand with his two friends.
Meanwhile, government vehicles were vandalised on NH-10. In the early hours of Friday, a medical unit at Rammam Hydel Project in Lodhoma was torched. A customer care centre of the West Bengal State Electricity Development Corporation Limited was set ablaze too.
Army personnel conducted patrols at Patlaybass, a stronghold of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.