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27 Jul 2017

Darjeeling without cellphone coverage

Morcha members burn cellphone sets. Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, Calcutta, July 26: The cellphone connectivity in Darjeeling town and suburbs remained down for the second day today, prompting the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to organise a march and burning of handsets in protest.
For the past 48 hours, landlines have been defunct and so are most cellphone networks.
Sources said the phone services were down because alleged Gorkhaland strike supporters had cut down optical fibre cables in some areas of the hills. "It is a tough task for companies concerned to identify the locations where the cables were snapped and do repairs. The problem has been aggravated by the two-day long power cut in Darjeeling," a source said.
The power supply was restored to almost the entire town by this afternoon.
The Morcha supporters started a procession from Ghoom railway station and went to Jorebungalow. The march then returned to the station where over 60 cellphone sets were burnt in protest.
"Without Internet and phone connectivity, these gadgets are of no use. That is why we burnt the cellphones. It is because of the policy of the state government that the situation has reached this extent. We want immediate restoration of Internet and phone services," Prakash Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha's Ghoom-Jorebungalow constituency, said.
He also said if the phones continued to remain idle, the service providers should think of removing towers. "What is the use of towers if the phones do not work and there is no Internet," he said.
The Darjeeling district administration had halted Internet services till July 25. Although the date has crossed, Internet is still unavailable in the hills.
Unconfirmed sources said the clampdown on Internet had been extended till August 5.

Chamling meets PM
Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday and sought the Centre's intervention to ensure that the state didn't face shortage of food and fuel because of the strike in the Darjeeling hills.
Chamling also called on Union home minister Rajnath Singh and Jitendra Singh, the Union minister for development of the Northeast, and apprised them of the situation.

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