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1 Aug 2017

Bhutan border traffic resumes

TT, Alipurduar, July 31: Traffic between India and Bhutan resumed today through Jaigaon, where a clash between Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters and police had stopped the movement of vehicles.
The border traffic became normal as the police kept vigil at several points of Jaigaon and surrounding areas.
"The situation is normal in Jaigaon today and there has been no disruption in traffic. Our men have been posted at different locations and patrolling has been intensified," said A. Ravindranath, the superintendent of police of Alipurduar.
The police's refusal to allow the Morcha to hold a rally had triggered violence yesterday. The local business fraternity today expressed concern over the clash.
"The border trade was affected on either side yesterday. We are worried because such incidents can upset the economy here," said R.S. Gupta, the secretary of the Jaigaon Merchants' Association.
Another trader said the breach of law and order would affect the tourism industry of both India and Bhutan.
"Thousands of Indian tourists and even foreigners enter Bhutan through Jaigaon and Phuenthsholing on the other side. There are several people who are engaged in the tourism sector. Violence like yesterday's will affect the tourism sector," he said.
A tour operator in Jaigaon said he apprehended the Morcha wanted to create a situation similar to the one in the hills.
Political observers said the Morcha's attempts to disrupt traffic to Bhutan could stir the Centre and the state, both of whom have been playing a wait-and-watch game on the statehood agitation.
Police and intelligence officials agreed that the hill party wanted to foment tension in the border town to mount pressure on the Centre.
"If such incidents of violence recur in Jaigaon, border trade, tourism and traffic will be disturbed. This is what the Morcha wants, it seems," a senior official said.

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