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26 Jun 2017

Sikkim bus trips erratic

TT, Siliguri, June 25: Bus services from the Sikkim Nationalised Transport terminus here remained erratic today as the authorities suspended several trips because of simmering "discontentment" in Siliguri over the ongoing Gorkhaland movement .
The SNT was supposed to operate over 20 buses from the Siliguri terminus to Sikkim today. However, no service was conducted till 5pm when six buses left with police escort.
"We have noticed a discontentment brewing in the town for some reason or the other. As our buses need to travel around 5km to move out of Siliguri, we were worried over the security of our passengers. So, we requested local police for escort," an SNT official posted in Siliguri said.
In the afternoon, over 5,000 Siliguri residents took out a march here to protest the demand for the separate state. Its not clear if the SNT has suspended the trips particularly because of the procession.
On Friday, three simultaneous demonstrations by taxi drivers, youths and tour operators at the SNT terminus hampered bus services for more than three hours, leaving over 1,000 passengers stranded.
The drivers of light vehicles having Bengal number plates held the protest, alleging that they were being attacked by Gorkhaland supporters on NH10, the lone highway to Sikkim. The youths demonstrated to protest Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling's open support for Gorkhaland.
A notice put up by the SNT officials at the bus terminus asking tourists to stay away from Sikkim invited the wrath of the tour operators.
The demonstration was lifted around 3pm after SNT officials promised that the Sikkim government would try for free movement of all vehicles along NH10.
The officials didn't make any promise on the notice.
Today, seven buses from Sikkim arrived in Siliguri in the morning. However, no service was conducted till the evening.
Some SNT buses, sources said, dropped passengers at Salugara, located on the outskirts of Siliguri on NH31, and didn't move to the terminus off Hill Cart Road. The buses headed back to Sikkim with some passengers from Salugara.
Passengers, including students who study at educational institutions in Sikkim, were left stranded because of the erratic trips.
"I will have exams in a couple of days. I reached Siliguri this morning and found that no buses were available for Gangtok. Share cabs are not available either," Mohan Saraf, a student studying at a management institute in Sikkim, said.
Finally, around 5pm, police vehicles reached the terminus to escort six buses till Salugara.
"Six buses left with police escort around 5.15pm. Five will head for Gangtok, while one is bound for Namchi," H.L. Lamichaney, the additional general manager (operations) of the SNT, posted in Siliguri, said.<

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