SSB withdrawn as calm prevails on hills and plains

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Siliguri, Jun 14 (UNI) Darjeeling district administration today withdrew Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) but retained CRPF for security purpose as situation was fast improving in the hills and plains, official sources said.

The essential items like fuel, rice, atta, salt, and vegetables have started moving uphills after nearly five days of suspension of traffic following Darjeeling bandh, Siliguri's strike and economic blockade towards the hills.

Police said trucks carrying essentials have started moving towards Sikkim and Darjeeling since morning despite inclement weather and rains.

Two companies of SSB were deployed on Thursday and six companies of CRPF were reinforced the following day after clashes broke out between pro and anti-Gorkhaland supporters in the region.

Terai, Dooars, hills of Darjeeling and Siliguri had witnessed violent clashes and random bandh since June nine as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha intensified statehood demand for Darjeeling district and its active opposition from Amra Bangalee and Jan Jagaran, a newly launched forum against division of Bengal.

The GJM has suspended its indefinite bandh call until Monday and JJ withdrew its economic blockade.

IGP, North Bengal, Kundan Lal Tamta said the SSB personnel were withdrawn today as overall situation in the hills and plains improved satisfactorily since yesterday.

However, of the six companies of CRPF, four companies will remain active to assist the local admistration in Siliguri, the remaining two companies have been posted at Dooars, a pre-dominant Nepali population area in neighbouring Jalpaiguri district.

Unlike the Gorkhaland agitation in the 80s when GNLF's movement under Subash Ghisingh for statehood was basically restricted to three hills sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, the latest one under the GJM, headed by Bimal Gurung, has expanded to the plains of Siliguri and Dooars.

Darjeeling's superintendent of police Rahul Srivastava said the situation was fast returning to normal and there had been no report of any untowards incident since yesterday.

Siliguri administration has escorted some 400 students to Pintail village near Sukna from different hostels since yesterday. The students had sought police protection through North Bengal University to move home after NBU closed for summer vacation yesterday. The students moved further from Pintain village on their own to Sikkim and Darjeeling hills and elsewhere.

Local officials said the police escort was provided as the students were feeling unsafe in view of escalating ethnic violence over the statehood demand and its opposition.

GJM's central committee member Bimal Dorjee said the students returned home safely.

GJM's Vidharthi Manch representaives today held a meeting with Darjeeling's additional magistrate B K Chettri and SDO, Siliguri, Smita Pandey regarding safe passage of the students and back to the institutions after the vacation.

UNI XC PC AKJ NS1923

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