'Economic blockade' paralyse North Bengal

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Siliguri/Darjeeling, Jun 12: Life crippled in this major commercial town of North Bengal as a 48-hour Siliguri bandh began today and an indefinite "economic" blockade to Darjeeling hills started as pro and anti-Gorkhaland agitations intensified in West Bengal.

Jana Jagaran, a newly launched common platform for many mass organisations protesting Gorkhaland state agitation, today renewed "economic blockade" preventing vehicles carrying essentials to hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The JJ had organsied similar blockade for half-an-hour last evening. The blockade at Bhaktinagar, Jalpai More, Gosaipara and Darjeeling More prevented vehicles carryng essentials to uphill of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.

About 250-300 volunteers assembled at each blockade area to ensure no vechile passes from plains to the hills.

JJ joint secretary Aloke Kumar Hore said "we will not allow any vehicle to carry essentials to the hills until the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha withdraw its agitation on separate Gorkhaland state".

He said the GJM's 60 hours "relaxed" indefinite bandh since last evening until Saturday morning was tactical to store foodgrains and essentials enough for a greater type of movmenmt for separate state.

Amra Bangali, a political outfit protesting division of West Bengal, called the 48-hour Siliguri bandh evoked huge response on the first day paralying life of this commercial town and affecting movement of traffic elsewhere including three neighbouring nations of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Siliguri is gateway of Northest and Sikkim.

The success of bandh illustrated how poeple in the plains oppose a division of their state, said an AB spokesman.

A report from Darjeeling said the fleeing of tourists from the hills continued for the third day today as some eight vechicles carried people to the plains.

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, spearheading movement for separate state, "relaxed" 60 hours bandh until Satuday morning to allow the travellers leave Darjeeling hills. The GJM said there was no politics in the hills except separate Grokha state for local people.

A report from Kurseong said people on a buying spree since bandh was relaxed last evening.

However, there was not much stocks in business houses and whatever available was on high or extra prices.

Scarcity of essentials including fuel and vegetable was already reported in all major towns of hills.

However, the government and semi-government offices today functioned normally after closure of last two days.

IGP, North Bengal, Kundan Lal Tamta today said the overall law and order situation was under control in major parts of the hills and plains.

Meanwhile, Jalpaiguri district administration has clamped section 144 cr PC at Malbazar, Meteli and Nagrakatta after clashes broke out between two groups on Gorkhaland issue.

Some tourists were manhandled by pro-Gorkhaland supporters and in retaliation five GJM activists were beaten yesterday prompting the administration to impose prohibitory orders for indefinte period.

UNI

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