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1 Jul 2017

Trucks to Sikkim go off roads

Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, June 30: Operators of trucks ferrying goods from Siliguri to Sikkim began an indefinite strike today to protest the alleged attacks on their vehicles by those protesting the demand for Gorkhaland.
The decision has added to the problems of Sikkim, which is staring at an imminent crisis of fuel because of an ongoing strike by petrol tankers.
The Himalaya Rajmargh Chalak Sangathan, an association of private truck drivers, and Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Truck Owners' Association, have jointly decided not to ferry goods to Sikkim.
Sources said at least two private trucks to Sikkim had been attacked over the past few days. A group of youths protesting the division of Bengal vandalised the two trucks in Dhupguri and New Jalpaiguri, apparently angry with Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling's open support for Gorkhaland.
Uttam Rai, the secretary of the drivers' association, said: "We will continue with our strike until the police arrest those responsible for the assault on our members and vehicles and prevent such incidents from happening again."
Rai said the trucks would not even ferry essential commodities to Sikkim.
"We won't, however, stop trucks operated by the Sikkim government to ferry supplies. Sikkim-registered vehicles are being especially targeted by the miscreants in Siliguri because of Pawan Chamling's support for Gorkhaland. We sympathise with our Sikkimese brothers," he said.
A senior Sikkim government official said there was no immediate concern with regard to supply of food items, but the halt in the transport of fuel could turn into a crisis. "We have adequate supply of food now. But fuel could be a problem if there is no resumption of supply in the next couple of days," he said.
Indian Oil Corporation sources at Rangpo, which is on the Bengal-Sikkim border, echoed the fears of the Sikkim official.
According to sources at Indian Oil, the fuel crisis could also affect the army guarding India's frontiers in Sikkim as the force sources its fuel from Rangpo.
The Pragatisil Tanker Drivers' Association has stopped plying fuel-carrying tankers between Siliguri and Sikkim from June 22 to protest the state government's alleged atrocities against the people of the hills and in support of the movement for Gorkhaland.

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