Instant shutdown hits tourism in Darjeeling

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Sukuna (Darjeeling), July 12 (ANI): Tourists visiting Darjeeling are being forced to return to the plains following strike call given by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM).

The shutdown is in operation till Monday noon in protest against the violence at Panighata near Kurseong.

Activists and supporters of the GJM clashed with their Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) rivals.

The GJM has sought immediate remedial action by the police and issued an ultimatum that their grievances be redressed, failing which an indefinite strike will be called in the hill district of Darjeeling.

With all shops and other establishments downing their shutters, tourists have packed up and rushed to other resorts.

For example, Sukna in the foothills, is attracting a rush of tourists.

"We were planning to stay for more than a week ( in Darjeeling) and had booked a hotel for almost ten days. But because of the strike, I thought there would be no arrangements of vehicle or food. So, we left the place," said Laxman Adhikary, a tourist from Kolkata.

Earlier, GJM supporters had staged a sit-in-strike before a police station at Panighata and demanded the arrest of Rajen Mukhia, a GNLF leader.

Meanwhile, some GNLF supporters also appeared on the scene, forcing the police to step in to bring the situation under control. A mild baton charge was resorted to.

Police arrested nine GJMM supporters, but Mukhia was not nabbed.

This prompted the GJM leadership to summon a meeting of the central committee where it was decided to go for an indefinite strike if Mukhia was not arrested by July 13.

"We demand from the government the immediate arrest of Mukhia," said Raju Subba, the information and cultural secretary, GJM.

It may be recalled that the Central Government, the West Bengal Government and the GNLF under the leadership of Subhas Gheising, signed an agreement in 1988, paving the way for the setting up of the Autonomous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (ADGHC). (ANI)

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