Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sikkim government moves Supreme Court on Gorkhaland issue

New Delhi: Following the ongoing Gorkhaland agitation, the Sikkim government on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court for a direction to the Centre and the West Bengal government to ensure free movement of traffic on National Highway No. 31A to and from Sikkim.

A vacation Bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice G.S. Singhvi decided to hear the petition on Thursday on a mention made by counsel for the State A. Mariarputham about the filing of an application.

The Bench, after hearing senior counsel P.H. Parekh, said it would take up another application filed by O.P. Bhandari seeking the same relief.

The apex court had already issued notice on a writ petition from Mr. Bhandari for a direction to the parties concerned to take appropriate action during bandhs and strikes called by political parties and social organisations. The present applications are filed in the same writ petition.

The applicants said on account of frequent bandhs called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the last few days, the entire stretch of NH-31A from Siliguri to Sikkim was closed and traffic had been disrupted as the followers refused to allow vehicles on the road.

This was the only national highway connecting the State with the rest of the country and due to the blockade, the people of Sikkim and thousands of tourists were stranded. The people were facing miserable conditions as even essential commodities and medicines could not reach Sikkim.

The applicants pointed out that the GJM had commenced an indefinite strike from June 14 and had asked the people to store essential goods for about 45 days.

Contending that life had come to a standstill due to the road block, they sought a direction to the Centre and the West Bengal government to ensure free movement of vehicles and people on NH 31A.