'If this bandh continues, public will defy it and come out'
Darjeeling: The indefinite bandh in the Hills hit the 67 day mark on Wednesday. The state government is of the opinion that if the agitators further stretch the bandh, the masses will come out in the open and defy it.
While announcing the date for talks with the Hill parties, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had stated that some shops are opening in the Hills; in some tea gardens workers want to work and the TMC run Municipality has started functioning.
"Time and again we have requested the agitators to lift the bandh and sit for talks. It is the Hill populace who are suffering. What is the outcome of the bandh except the immense suffering of the masses. Education institutions are closed. Students are losing out on their classes. On June 22 we had called for talks but no Hill party turned up. If this bandh continues, the public will defy it and come out," said state Tourism minister Goutam Deb.
In areas bordering the Hills including Sukna and Sevok, shops have started opening. Workers have voluntarily begun work in Garden View tea estate. Though after two days, agitators had forcefully stopped them.
The TMC-run Mirik municipality has started functioning. L B Rai, Municipal Chairman stated: "Due to heavy rains, there have been multiple landslides in and around the town. Many houses have been damaged. People have approached us for help and hence, we have asked the municipal engineers to conduct a survey and submit a report. We have also got to clean up the garbage accumulated all over the town owing to the bandh. There are chances of a disease outbreak if we do not." On July 18, the Mirik municipality was vandalised by protestors.
Meanwhile, with Bimal Gurung remaining incommunicado, assistant secretary Binay Tamang has been appointed the chief coordinator of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. He will look after internal matters of the party, represent it in talks and take the Gorkhaland movement forward. With many front rung GJM leaders including Gurung charged in multiple cases they have not been able to come to the fore thereby prompting the decision of nominating Tamang as chief coordinator.