Friday, May 18, 2007

BANDH CALLS FOR SECURITY ALONG NH31A

A strike less, but little relief
OUR CORRESPONDENT

Darjeeling, May 6: The Gorkha National Students’ Front (GNSF) might have decided to withdraw its May 11 strike, but that does not ensure a stress-free month for tourists and travel operators.

Another students’ body — the All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu) — has decided to observe a 12-hour bandh on May 16 while the Hill Employees’ Association (the Eden Dham faction) has threatened to go ahead with its strike in government and semi-government offices on May 25.

Asok Chhetri, the spokesman for GNSF, the students’ wing of the GNLF, said: “Taking into the account the tourist season and requests made by travel operators, we decided to keep the strike on hold till June 15.”

The GNSF strike had been called to demand the immediate appointment of a full-fledged principal and filling up of vacant posts at Darjeeling Government College.

The All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu), an apolitical body, has on the other hand already started mobilising support for its bandh. The Agsu demands include the setting up of a central technical university and the inclusion of all hill people under the Schedule Tribe category.

As for the employees’ association, it has set a 15-day deadline for the Bengal government to redress its grievances, failing which a 12-hour strike will be observed in all government and semi-government offices.

An end to the water scarcity in town and filling up of vacant posts in government offices are some of the demands of the association.

Tour operators feel that the strike called by the association might not affect tourists much. “We will only have to inform them in advance so that they do not face any inconvenience in banks and in getting permits to go to Sikkim. The withdrawal of the GNSF bandh has come as a relief,” said Pradip Lama of the Darjeeling Association of Travel Agents.