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26 Jul 2017

Ban on internet in hills to continue - No proposal to form panel to look into Gorkhaland demand, Govt tells LS

EOI, DARJEELING, 25 Jul 2017: The ban on internet services in the Darjeeling Hills, facing indefinite shutdown for the last 41 days for carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland out of West Bengal, was extended today till August 4.
The 41-day-long shutdown till now has emerged to be the second longest so far in the picturesque hill station, which had witnessed a 40-day bandh in 1988 by Gorkha National Liberation Front and a 44-day shutdown in 2013 by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha on the statehood issue. The ban on internet services had been first imposed on June 18 and the district administration extended it today. Pro-Gorkhaland activists took out rallies in Darjeeling today during the day but no incident of violence or arson was reported by the police.
With GJM, which is spearheading the agitation, holding rallies today at various places, the police and security forces patrolled the streets of the hills and kept a tight vigil at all entry and exit routes. Except medical shops, business establishments, restaurants, hotels, schools and colleges remained closed. With food supply severely hit due to the indefinite shutdown, the GJM and various NGOs of the hills distributed food items among people. Meanwhile, the Union government today said in Lok Sabha that there was no proposal to constitute a committee to look into the separate state demand of the Gorkhas and others agitating in Darjeeling, West Bengal.
"There is no proposal to appoint a committee to look into the merits and demerits of the demands of the Gorkhas, Adivasis and others," Union minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir said in a written reply to a question in the Lower House of Parliament.  The Darjeeling hills have been witnessing an indefinite strike called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland, since June 12. "Violence and damage to public property have been reported during the agitations," said Ahir.
He added that according to the Constitution, the states were primarily responsible for the maintenance of law-and- order. The Centre, on a request from the state government, provided assistance by sending Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel, said the minister. Similarly, CAPF battalions were provided to the West Bengal government as well for the maintenance of law-and-order in the Darjeeling hills, he added.

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