DARJEELING, India, 30 July 2013
Normal life was disrupted for the second day on Tuesday due to the 72-hour bandh called in the Darjeeling hills by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to demand Gorkhaland.
All shops, markets, school, colleges, government offices, banks and post offices were closed with GJM supporters gathering at Chowkbazaar in Darjeeling as also in the two other hill subdivisions of Kurseong and Kalimpong, reports said.
Among offices closed were the district magistrate’s, Prasar Bharati, and the Gorkha Territorial Administration, which runs the affairs of the hills. There was no work at the 16 tea gardens and at the cinchona factory in the hills, the reports said.
GJM supporters, including GJM Nari Morcha supporters, were controlling the traditional entrance to Darjeeling town near the railway station.
There was no transport on the roads or on the National Highway 31A, the lifeline of Sikkim connected to West Bengal.
Official sources said that two more platoons of security forces were en route to the Darjeeling hills, where seven companies of the Rapid Action Force, five companies of the Riot Police and two companies of the India Reserve Battalion were stationed.
Among the foreign tourists trapped in the hills, one from Siberia and another from the UK said that they did not know about the strike and were facing problems. Though accommodation was not a problem, it was difficult to procure food, they said. Domestic tourists have already left the hills.
On Monday, GJM chief Bimal Gurung had threatened that the three-day strike would be converted into an indefinite one to press for Gorkhaland in case statehood was conferred on Telengana. He had also announced that he would quit as GTA chief in a day or two.