Darjeeling, Feb. 20 : An indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM) has affected normal life in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong.
The shutdown was called to protest the alleged imposition of Sixth Schedule status on the hills and over a reported move to create a separate state of Grokhaland comprising Darjeeling District and the Dooars region of Jalpaiguri District.
Protests are also taking place to remove Subash Ghising as the caretaker administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
Business establishments were closed and roads remained deserted. But the National Highway 31 A, linking Siliguri with Sikkim was exempted from the shutdown. Essential services were also exempted.
Police made elaborate security arrangements to ensure maintenance of law and order in the area.
In January, the GJMM and about half a dozen other parties had announced that they would intensify their movement for a separate Gorkhaland comprising of Darjeeling and the surrounding hills in West Bengal.
The GJMM has been organising rallies and protests for a separate Gorkhaland state for months.
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which is led by Subash Ghising, has supported a Central Government move to create an autonomous self-governing Gorkha Hill Council in Darjeeling under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The GJMM, a breakaway faction of the GNLF, which is led by Bimal Gurung, has vehemently opposed it.
The GNLF first launched an agitation for a separate state in 1980, but dropped the demand for Sixth Schedule after New Delhi agreed to confer partial autonomy in 1988 for Nepalese-speaking people.
An agreement was signed between the Central Government, the West Bengal Government and the GNLF, paving the way for an Autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (ADGHC) in 1988.
The West Bengal Government has been resisting demands for a separate state for Gorkhas.