GJM relaxes indefinite strike for 60 hours

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Darjeeling/Siliguri, Jun 11 (UNI) The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) relaxed its indefinite Darjeeling bandh for 60 hours from 1800 hours this evening to 0600 hours on Saturday to facilitate exodus of tourists from the hills.

GJM spokesperson Binoy Tamang told UNI today that the bandh was relaxed to enable the visitors leave Darjeeling hills and Sikkim.

Scores of tourists also got stranded in Sikkim as the state's lifeline - NH 31A - passes through Kalimpong, a sub-division of Darjeeling district.

Nearly 5000 travellers were being brought from three hills - Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong - after the GJM called the indefinite bandh from June 10, demanding creation of separate Gorkhaland state comprising the hills and parts of Terai and Dooars.

However, the Part two examination and other emergency services were exempted from the purview of the bandh, Mr Tamang said. But many students had a tough time to avail conveyance to reach the examination centres.

The Northeast Frontier Railway last night ran a special train carrying thousands of stranded visitors from NJP station to Sealdah.

The stranded tourists were evacuated from the hills with the help of the local administration, and hoteliers and travel companies had arranged vehicles for them in the bandh-affected areas.

IG, North Bengal, Kundan Lal Tamta said the travellers were safely evacuated from the bandh-hit areas with the help of local administration and people.

Meanwhile, hundreds of tourists in Sikkim used the relaxation period to scamper off from Gangtok to reach the nearest rail station and airport at Bagdogra, 114 km away from here.

The East district administration, police, Tourism department and tour operators extended all help to the tourists, who had gathered in a huge number at the Sikkim Nationalised Transport office in Gangtok from early morning.

As soon as the bandh relaxation news filtered down, visible relief was observed among the tourists and the administration.

Twelve buses packed with tourists left Gangtok by 5 PM with one more bus to spare.

With shortage of buses, the administration made use of even government college and prison buses to ferry the tourists. Other tourists made their exit in passenger taxis from the Deroali taxi stand.

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