CM personally supervises stranded tourists' evacuation
The State Government on Friday went about evacuating stranded tourists from Darjeeling. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee camped in Darjeeling keeping a close tab on the tourist situation.
Thousands of tourists were left stranded in the Hills after a clash between GJM supporters and security forces on Thursday followed by a 12 hour bandh call by the GJM youth wing.
From the wee hours on Friday tourists arrived at the Darjeeling motor stand from where the district administration had arranged State buses to ferry them to Siliguri with police escort.
In the morning the CM went around meeting tourists. "Don't worry. I am here to help you and ensure all of you get back safely. We have arranged for free buses to Siliguri and from Siliguri every two hours there are State buses to Kolkata. Tourists who have missed trains and flights can avail the State buses" the CM told tourists.
The Darjeeling motor stand was packed with tourists trying to make it out of town. " There are 65 of us. We have a bus service back to Medinipur from Siliguri this evening. We have been sitting here since 3am but have not managed to get place in the Government bus said Haripada Jana from Medinipur.
The police and district administration had opened a help desk. Tourists were asked to enlist their names at this desk. "It is a helpless situation for us. With kids on tow we have been sitting since 8 am. Everything is so uncertain. It has been a bitter experience for us. Tourists are suffering" stated Abhiuday Singh of Gorakpur, UP.
14 state buses and around 15 small vehicles had left Darjeeling till 6pm. More buses would be pressed into service at night. "We have requested for additional coaches or a special train to Kolkata. Two additional flights are scheduled to operate from Bagdogra to Dumdum on Saturday" stated the Chief Minister.
Picketers stopped vehicles on National Highway 10 to Sikkim from the plains resulting in vehicles from Sikkim also remaining off the NH 10 for a major part of the day.
After most of the tourists were ferried out, CM Mamata Banerjee left Darjeeling at night. She will be staying in Siliguri.