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11 Jun 2017

Darjeeling: GJM calls indefinite bandh in GTA, state and central govt offices from Monday

GJM
Troops patrolling the streets of Darjeeling on Friday. From Monday public life may again be disrupted due to the indefinite bandh called by GJM
Pramod Giri, HT, 10 June 2017, Kolkata: In a move that can again plunge Darjeeling hills into crisis and disrupt public life, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders have called an indefinite bandh in offices of the state government, central government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration from Monday.
All offices of the state government, central government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) will be indefinitely closed, GJM general secretary, Roshan Giri, announced in Darjeeling after the party’s central committee meeting chaired by Bimal Gurung.
Giri also announced that all signboards in the hills should henceforth be written only in Nepali and English. However, he did not clarify whether Morcha workers will erase Bengali and Hindi words already written on signboards. The latest bout of agitations in the hills was ostensibly triggered by GJM's opposition to the chief minister’s announcement that students in schools in the state have to learn Bengali till class 10.
“We have taken up this programme in view of the pro-Gorkhaland sentiments among the people in the hills. GJM president Bimal Gurung has written a letter to the Union home minister mentioning that the GTA has failed because of the high-handedness of the state government,” said Giri.
Courts and banks will come under the purview of the bandh. Educational institutions, hotels, shops and establishments and transport will be exempted. The banks will be allowed to operate only on Monday and Thursday. Banks will also operate on June 27 to 30 to facilitate distribution of salary.
GJM has also called an all-party meeting on June 13 to discuss the situation in the hills. Though they didn’t specify which are the parties they will invite, it seems that all hill parties apart from BJP, which is an ally of GJM, may join.
The Morcha’s announcement came close on the heels of a 12-hour bandh called by the GJM Yuva Morcha on Friday, when it caused immense trouble to thousands of tourists. “The government will actively resist the design with all the force at its command,” said tourism minister and president of Darjeeling district Trinamool Congress, Gautam Deb.
Ironically, chief minister Mamata Banerjee remarked on Saturday morning that GJM will refrain from calling bandhs again. “We hope good sense will prevail and there will be no bandhs. The high court has declared bandhs illegal,” she said. A delegation of GJM leaders will soon go to Delhi to meet the Prima Minister and Union home minister.
Every Monday GJM will take out candle light processions between 7 pm and 8 pm. Every Thursday and Sunday, the Morcha will organise big rallies throughout the hills.
The decision to close down the GTA office may trigger confrontation between GJM leaders and the state government since the finance department will formally start from Monday the special audit of the GTA, the semi-autonomous body that runs the affairs in the hills.
While a six-member audit team reached Darjeeling on Friday, the state government is dispatching another six officers to wrap up the exercise as soon as possible. The chief minister has alleged that the GJM leaders have indulged in financial irregularities in the GTA for years, and it is clear that the ruling party wants to highlight the evidence that the special audit may unearth to nail Morcha leaders both politically and administratively.
The elections to the 45-seat GTA -- GJM made a clean sweep in 2012 -- may be held in July.










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