WITH ROWS of school buses leaving Darjeeling since 5 am, thousands of students left the Hills on Friday — during a 12-hour window granted by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) to various schools in the Hills to evacuate students to Siliguri.
Not only Indians, students from Nepal, Bhutan, Hong Kong, Thailand and Bangladesh have been stranded amid GJM’s call for an indefinite shutdown over its demand for Gorkhaland. There are more than 50 boarding schools in the Hills.
On Friday, members of Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha — the GJM’s student wing — set up a desk at Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, where school buses ferrying students were stopped. Teachers and students handed over identity cards, which were checked and the names noted in a register. Transit passes were issued and the buses were allowed to leave for Siliguri.
Students of boarding schools like St Paul’s, St Joseph’s, Mt Hermon and others were ready to leave early on Friday. As they boarded buses, many hugged and exchanged wishes.“We are so happy… Usually, our parents come and take us home. But now, we are all leaving together in school buses,” said Damayanti Devi, a Class VIII student and resident of Guwahati.
In Siliguri, a parent from Kathmandu, Anjay Shah, said: “My two sons study in Class VII and Class X in North Point. It is a great relief that they have arrived safely to us in Siliguri. We will shortly take them home.”