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26 Jun 2017

12-hour hill window for Id - Morcha relaxes strike but residents say shopping plans already hit

TT, Darjeeling, June 25: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will provide a 12-hour relaxation from 6am in its indefinite strike for the movement of vehicles during Id tomorrow, but residents said the agitation had already affected their shopping plans.
The hill party, however, clarified that the relaxation would apply only to those vehicles ferrying Muslims to the mosque for prayers or to visit relatives.
"Keeping in mind the Id celebrations tomorrow, we have decided to provide a relaxation on movement of vehicles for members of the Muslim community to visit the mosque or their relatives. We request them to put up proper stickers on the vehicles," Morcha chief Bimal Gurung said.
The is the second relaxation provided by the Morcha in the indefinite strike that entered its 11th day today. The party had last week provided a 12-hour window for boarders of various schools to leave the hills.
"The relaxation is only for members of the Muslim community. Apart from this relaxation, everything else will remain closed as usual," said Morcha leader Norbu G. Lama.
The party has also decided not to bring out any rally across the hills tomorrow. There are approximately 20,000 Muslims in the hills, an official said.
Residents today said the strike had already affected their plans for shopping and making other arrangements.
"We welcome the decision, but it will not be of much help. We have not been able to do much shopping for the festival. We are supporting the statehood demand and prepared for low-key celebrations tomorrow," a hill resident said.
"After prayers, we usually move around in the neighbourhood, where we are offered sewai. This time, most of us have not been able to buy sewai as the strike was called suddenly. Even those who get donations would not be able to buy much, be it sewai or new clothes," the hill resident said.
During Id, pulao and meat are usually distributed.
"But getting these items would be a problem. At most, we can try and distribute sewai to ensure at least one important dish is served, even in small quantity," he added.

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