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25 Jul 2017

Unesco concerned as 3 Darjeeling Toy train stations damaged in GJM protests

Amit chakraborty, Ei Samay | Jul 25, 2017, KOLKATA: Amid ongoing Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) protests, Unesco has expressed concern over safety of Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) properties in West Bengal. At least stations of DHR, recognised by the UN agency as a world heritage site since 1999, were damaged during the ongoing strike in the hills.
Recently, Unesco officials had a detailed discussion with the railway board authoritis after train stations were vandalised by the protesters.
On July 8, bandh supporters torched the Sonada station. The Gayabari station was set on fire on July 13 and, the same night, an arson attack was attempted on the Elysia Building in Kurseong. The two stations were gutted and the ground floor of the two-storey building in Kurseong was damaged.
Unesco authorities sent two letters - one on June 26 and the other on July 11 - to the central government in compliance with the "operational guidelines for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention".
Last month, GJM supporters had ransacked the Mahanadi station and a notice was issued to halt the train services.
Following which, Railway officials held discussions with the state government on using the central force to provide security to the railway properties in the hills.
"Shocked to hear the attacks on toy train. We have spoken to the state govt on law and order issue," Pranabjyori Sharma, CRPO DHR, had said.
However, GJM leaders have denied the allegations.
"Contractors can be behind these to get new contracts. It should be investigated properly," a GJM leader had said.

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