Gorkhatimes

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Bandh in hills from today – Vehicles spared on first day of shutdown

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 13, 2009

Morcha chief Bimal Gurung on Sunday

Morcha chief Bimal Gurung on Sunday

Darjeeling, July 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will start its “real agitation for Gorkhaland” with an indefinite strike in the hills from tomorrow noon but will allow vehicles to ply through the day so people who want to flee to the plains can do so.

From Tuesday morning, not even police vehicles will be allowed to move, thundered Morcha president Bimal Gurung. “Things are moving in Parliament and this strike has been called to support those initiatives. Our main demand is Gorkhaland,” he said.

By initiatives in Parliam- ent, he was referring to BJP member Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s mention of the statehood demand in the Rajya Sabha.

Gurung did not utter a word on the four demands he had placed before the state government while issuing the bandh ultimatum on Friday evening — arrest of GNLF leader Rajen Mukhia and removal of three police officers, including the north Bengal IG.

The government has met one of the demands, arresting Mukhia yesterday.

The fresh bout of trouble in the hills started after police lathicharged Morcha supporters for attacking Mukhia’s house on Friday. The house had been targeted earlier as well.

The Morcha is sending a team to Delhi “to apprise parliamentarians” of the statehood demand. “They will circulate a document titled ‘Why Gorkhaland’ among all parliamentarians,” said Gurung.

The monsoon is not a tourist season, but the tea industry is likely to be hit by the strike. “Plucking the second flush would have been completed in 10 days. We are now in a fix. The gardens will be forced shut. We can only wait and watch,” said a garden official.

The Morcha has put in place an elaborate plan to enforce the bandh. “Gorkhaland personnel will patrol the streets to ensure there is no law and order problem,” said Gurung.

The personnel are volunteers recruited by the Morcha “to maintain law and order during” its programmes.

The president of the Morcha youth wing said its baton-wielding members would patrol the streets during the day. “Our men will be on the streets with batons from 6am to 6pm. The Gorkhaland personnel will take over at night. This is the real agitation,” said Alok Kant Mani Thulung.

Although the Morcha has decided to stop the movement of police vehicles, it pledged not to prevent the deployment of policemen on foot. “We will allow the district magistrate, the police chief and the subdivisional officers to use their vehicles,” added Gurung.

IG K.L. Tamta, whose removal the Morcha had demanded, said: If the Morcha feels it can do without the police, they are living in a fool’s paradise.”

Source:The Telegraph

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