Safety concerns restraint tourists from visiting Darjeeling

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Darjeeling, May 4 : The ongoing agitation by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) demanding separate Gorkhaland state in West Bengal scares tourists from visiting famous tourist destination Darjeeling due to safety concerns.

Cradled in the hills of West Bengal, Darjeeling has always been a favourite destination for tourists because of its snowcapped mountains and picturesque scenery including a breathtaking view of Kanchenjanga peak.

Situated at a height of 2134 meters, Darjeeling is also famous for its 125-year-old toy train, a UNESCO world heritage site that attracts thousands of tourists to the picturesque hill station.

The on-going agitation by GJM in the Darjeeling hills is causing safety scares among tourists besides causing hardships in their movement.

"There was a political meeting in the main tourist place where lots of people gathered and I could not understand but it was on the formation of Gorkhaland and then on my way back to Siliguri there were strikes," said Kiran, a French tourist.

Tour operators fear an adverse impact on tourist inflows to the hills if the agitation continues.

"If there is a strike and if there is sudden road blockade obviously there will be problem for the tourist's movement in the town," said Samrat Sanyal, a tour operator.

The Gorkha people in the region led by the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) started agitation in early 1980s demanding a separate Gorkhaland state.

Subsequently, Darjeeling Gorkha hill council was set up under the GNLF supremo Subhash Geishing to administer the hills.

The Central Government in 2005 had announced to accord sixth schedule status to the GNLF-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) that would ensure greater autonomy to the governing body.

Opposing the sixth schedule status for Darjeeling, the GJM, a rival of GNLF led by new hill leader Bimal Gurung has been demanding Ghising's resignation and setting up of Gorkhaland state for long.

The Communist government in West Bengal is opposed to the demand for a separate state for the Gorkhas.

ANI

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