Normalcy returning slowly to Darjeeling Hills

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Siliguri, Mar 1 : Life is slowly limping back to normal in West Bengal's Darjeeling Hills following the suspension of an indefinite shutdown called by the Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha (GJMM).

West Bengal's Urban Development Minister, Asok Bhattacharya said the GJMM sponsored shutdown and hunger strike was withdrawn on Friday following the chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's intervention.

On Friday, Bhattacharjee called for normalcy to be restored in the Hills after meeting a GJMM delegation led by Bhimal Gurung.

Meanwhile, Subhah Ghisingh, who is staying at the Gorkha Bhawan in New Delhi has said he will resign as caretaker administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in ten days.

Sources said, all shops, markets and business establishments have started functioning normally and movement of vehicular traffic is normal.

The GJMM launched an economic blockade and started a fast-unto-death programme in the Hills on February 20, demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of the Darjeeling Hills comprising the Dooars region of Jalpaiguri District and certain areas contiguous to it.

The shutdown was also called to protest the alleged imposition of the Sixth Schedule status on the Hills and to remove Subash Ghising as the sole administrator of the DGHC.

Articles 244(II) and 275(I) of the Indian Constitution have made a provision for a Sixth Schedule status. The Articles states that if various indigenous groups live in a district or area, then they can be granted Sixth Schedule status and autonomy thereafter.

The GNLF first launched an agitation for a separate state in 1980, but dropped the demand for Sixth Schedule status 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 Gorkha state.

ANI

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