Monday, November 26, 2007

Sikkim vehicles allowed along NH 31A

DARJEELING, November 25: Life in all three sub-divisions of the Darjeeling district remained paralysed as the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-sponsored indefinite bandh entered the second day today.

Shops remained shut and the Police patrolled the streetswith prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC following the attack on the life of a prominent GNLF leader K B Gurung, who is the organisation’s Darjeeling Sadar-II unit, on Friday.

The GNLF chief, Subash Ghising has decided to continue with the bandh till 20 Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJMM) activists, including its president Bimal Gurung, were arrested. The GNLF have alleged that the attack was carried out by GJMM supporters.

While GNLF supporters used strong-armed tactics to impose the bandh in many places, stranded tourists were the most affected. The tax-stand here were jammed packed with tourists desperate to get out of the town at the earliest since Saturday morning. But most drivers were unwilling to venture out, fearing attacks by bandh supporters, leading to a panic situation amongst the tourists.

As taxis became scarce, some drivers, willing to take the chance, began to charge exorbitant rates to ferry tourist out of the town. Tourists also complained that the local administration had made no arrangements to provide them with escorts for a safe passage.

Darjeeling District Magistrate Rajesh Pandey said all shops and business establishments in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong subdivisions were closed and vehicles stayed off the road. Educational institutions and tea gardens did not function.

The District administration has made arrangement to shift the tourists to Siliguri in view of the continuing bandh.

Meanwhile, vehicles plying to and fro from Sikkim were allowed to move along the National Highway 31A to Siliguri. Reports have indicated that although the Sikkim-bound vehicles were allowed a safe-passage, they were directed not to stop anywhere the stretch of the NH 31A which falls under the Darjeeling District. The volume of traffic along the NH 31A was low today.

A vehicle with a Sikkim number plate was damaged at Kakjhora here yesterday, though no one was injured.