Day after talks, Darjeeling limps back to normalcy
Darjeeling: The day after the bipartite talks between the State Government and the agitators, a large number of shops opened in Darjeeling on Wednesday, signalling a normalcy that had eluded the hills for the past three months due to an indefinite strike called by the GJM for a Gorkhaland state.
The situation in the hills remained tense but incident- free despite threats and intimidation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the statehood movement.
The indefinite shutdown in the hills entered its 91st day on Wednesday.
For the fifth day in a row, the police along with the administration appealed to the locals via public address systems to open shops and restore normalcy in the hills.
Peace rallies were taken out by the residents in Kurseong, Darjeeling and Mirik.
GJM leader Binay Tamang also appealed to the public to lift the bandh. In an appeal to the masses through television channels, Tamang stated:"I had appealed on Tuesday. Once again I am appealing today. The bandh has to be lifted. A section of the public and hardliners do not want the bandh to end, but 99 per cent want normalcy to return. Owing to fear the bandh is not being lifted. I appeal to all to come out and end the bandh. "
Tamang stated that earlier when he had appealed to the public to end the bandh from September 1, many were eager. However, threats were issued to the business community.
Tamang stated that normalcy needs to return. "Tea gardens have to open, schools have to open, employees need to attend office. "We will continue with the movement but there has to be a well planned and specific programme. At present, the bandh is creating more pressure on us than the government."
GJM President Bimal Gurung in a recent audio clip had claimed that it was Tamang who had called the bandh.
"The same Gurung opposed my appeal to end the bandh from September 1 to September 12" added Tamang.
The North Bengal State Transport operated two buses from Siliguri to Darjeeling and back via Kurseong. The buses were escorted by security forces. Passengers availed the services.
Other buses plied to Mirik and Kalimpong. Banks have opened up in the Hills, though there were hardly any transactions owing to internet services being temporarily suspended.
However, in Kalimpong, an ATM also opened up and functioned for a short while.
Many government and government- aided schools have started functioning with teachers being asked to join immediately.
"It will take some time but normalcy will return. The police and district administration is keeping a close watch " stated a top police official.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday urged the Gorkhaland protestors in Darjeeling to withdraw their strike and restore normalcy.