Agitations over Sixth Schedule bring Kurseong to standstill

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Siliguri, Jan 22 (UNI) Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) and Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) today staged road blockades in parts of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) over the long-standing issue of granting Sixth Schedule status to the region.

Their agitations over demand for Gorkhaland and the Sixth Schedule by GJMM and GNLF respectively brought life to a standstill.

Gayabari, connecting Siliguri with Kurseong under Darjeeling district, was blocked by Subhas Ghisingh-led GNLF party members in protest against hoisting of the GJMM flag over Shahid Bedi here, where many died fighting for the Gorkhaland at Tindhariya.

Meanwhile, Tindhariya was blocked by the women's wing of Bimal Gurung-led GJMM protesting the arrest of their party leader Bimal Dorjee. Mr Dorjee, among others, was arrested for ''illegally hoisting their flag'' as accused by their Opposition GNLF.

They claimed that DGHC Kurseong Committee president I N Pradhan and others, against whom such charges had been placed before the police department, had yet not been arrested. ''But, this time they took spontaneous action in arrested Bimal Dorjee,'' accused party members.

The party GJMM members stopped the police and gheraoed their vehicles and demonstrated on the road to Kurseong in Tindhariya.

GJMM had yesterday burnt the tripatite pact of 1988 that was signed between DGHC, the Union and the State Governments, since they were against the Sixth Schedule status in Darjeeling.

Mr Pradhan accused that Opposition leaders Bimal Dorjee and the others had ''illegally posted'' their flags at the Shahid Bedi.

GJMM now demand the arrest of Mr Pradhan and others against whom there were similar allegations as Mr Dorjee.

Meanwhile, tourists were stranded and vehicular traffic had come to a standstill after the two rival party members blocked roads at Tindhariya and Gayabari. Additional police force has been beckoned and tension prevailed in the area.

A convoy of West Bengal Government Principal Secretary Amit Kirandev, who was scheduled to visit Kurseong today, was diverted through Sevoke.

Darjeeling District's Deputy SP headquaters Mohan Chhetri and SDPO Kurseong S Lepcha have arrived at the spot.

IGP North Bengal R J S Naolwa said the blackades had been taken off and no major untoward incident had occurred.

Mr Chhetri said Mr Dorjee had been arrested and will be taken to Kurseong court tomorrow.

UNI XC LL SR KP1936

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