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Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 11, 2009

No way out for landlocked Sikkim with NH 31A coming under blanket bandh.Flash bandh of three hours leaves 1000 vehicles standard on both sides of Rangpo.

DARJEELING/RANGPO: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has called an indefinite bandh from Monday, July 13 in the Darjeeling Hills, including the NH 31A, in protest against the hardcore measures adopted by police against its supporters at Panighata near Mirik under Kurseong subdivision today.
Earlier, the GJM had called an indefinite bandh from today, which was later changed. Declaring that the bandh call had been deferred till Monday 12 am the GJM chief, Bimal Gurung gave an ultimatum to the West Bengal Government asking it to order a thorough probe into the police brutalities and also remove the North Bengal IGP, KL Tamta along with Kurseong sub-division Additional SP and Darjeeling SP, Mr. Gurung at the earliest, failing which the indefinite strike would start from Monday.
The GJM has asked all tourists to leave the Darjeeling Hills by Sunday and has also asked the parents of out-station students studying in various schools in the Hills to take their wards home. All schools have been asked to shut down from Monday.
The bandh call led to a sudden bandh of three hours flashed around the NH 31A leaving around 1000 vehicles stranded on both sides of the Rangpo border. The flash bandh started from 3 pm and was lifted by the GJM activists at 6 pm as Sikkim braced for another period of isolation from tomorrow.
The GJM had called the indefinite bandh from tomorrow in response to the police action against its supporters at Panighata today.
According to reports, GJM supporters had held a meeting today at Panighata and later had gone to taken out a rally to picket the house of Rajen Mukhia, a local leader of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).
However, police intervened and the situation soon went of control with both sides locked in a pitched battle. Following stone pelting, the police countered with tear gas and lathi charge. Several people, including police personnel, sustained injuries in the incident.
Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of GJM was arrested but later released. However, it is alleged that police mercilessly beat up GJM vice president Pradeep Pradhan during the incident.
Around 25-30 GJM supporters sustained injuries in the lathicharge. It is also alleged that police also damaged the 26 vehicles of GJM supporters.
However, Darjeeling additional superintendent of police Akhilesh Chaturvedi told media that it was GJM activists who attacked the police personnel in which 15 policemen suffered injuries.
The GJM leadership at Darjeeling responded swiftly with an indefinite bandh call from tomorrow against the alleged police atrocities on the GJM supporters and has demanded the immediate arrest of Mr. Mukhia. The GJM has also demanded the transfer of North Bengal IGP KL Tamta and additional SP Chaturvedi.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri alleged that his party workers had organised a peaceful rally at Panighata when petrol bombs were hurled at the supporters from the house of GNLF leader Rajen Mukhiya.
The shops and business establishments in the hills brought down their shutters as news of the Panighata incident filtered in even though the flash bandh begins from tomorrow.
The indefinite bandh will be observed in Darjeeling hills and all other places dominated by the GJM. The blanket bandh also includes NH 31 A, a large part of which falls under GJM dominated Kalimpong subdivision.
The closure of NH 31 A will mean Sikkim being cut off from the rest of the nation as the national highway is the only connectivity link of this border State.
In past, especially last year, Sikkim had to suffer lengthy periods of isolation following political disturbances in the neighbouring Darjeeling hills prompting Chief Minister Pawan Chamling to send urgent representations to the Prime Minister and other Central ministers for allowing free vehicle movement along the NH 31 A.

Source: Sikkim EXpress


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