Gorkhatimes

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GJM bandh in Darjeeling enters third day

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 16, 2009

Supporters of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha take out a rally in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

Supporters of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha take out a rally in Darjeeling on Wednesday.

KOLKATA: Even as the indefinite bandh called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal entered its third day on Wednesday, the Sikkim government will be reiterating to the Centre the need to ensure that the highway linking the Himalayan State to the rest of the country remained open during such agitations.

“Both the Centre and West Bengal should find a way to ensure that Sikkim is not affected on such occasions. What is required is a permanent solution to the problem,” Chief Minister Pawan Chamling told The Hindu over telephone from Namchi in south Sikkim.

“It is not only a matter concerning the Gorkhas and West Bengal but one that involves the entire region and the country as a whole. The interests of all should be safeguarded,” he said.

“We have been raising the matter with the Centre and West Bengal for several years. It is the democratic right of all to agitate but in this instance, why should Sikkim be a victim of a situation where its road link with the rest of the country remains snapped?” Mr. Chamling, who will be going to New Delhi shortly, asked.

“If the situation persists, there could be a shortage of essential commodities including food grains, in Sikkim. The on-going bandh has already started affecting tourism in the State and could impact the various development projects as raw materials for construction purposes need to be transported up along the highway where traffic movement has remained suspended,” a Sikkim government official said.

The GJM leadership, meanwhile, remained firm on continuing the bandh that has been called in support of its demand for a separate Gorkhaland State.

“We are keen on tripartite talks but they should focus on the single agenda of statehood. Any future discussion will have to be political as the issue calls for a political solution and a commitment should be made by the Centre that the subject to be discussed is the creation of a Gorkhaland State,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said from New Delhi.

On whether the bandh will be lifted in view of the Home Ministry decision to call for tripartite talks in the capital on August 24 he said: “The bandh is continuing. Any decision on the matter will be announced by GJM president Bimal Gurung after the central committee meets.”

Mr. Giri and three other GJM leaders are in the capital to seek support for the statehood demand among MPs of different political parties.

Normal life in the sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong came to a standstill during the day because of the bandh.

Vehicles did not ply, while shops, commercial establishments and schools remained closed.

Source:The Hindu

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