Governor urges for peace, as Darjeeling shutdown continues

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Darjeeling/Kolkata, Feb 11 (PTI) The Darjeeling hillsremained completely shut down for the third day today due tothe indefinite strike by GJM which showed no signs ofrelenting even as Governor M K Narayanan sought politicalparties'' help in restoring peace but did not favour armydeployment in the strife-torn areas.

Shops and business establishments were closed andvehicles off the roads as government offices recordedpractically no attendance, official sources said.

All the tea gardens in the hills were also closed inresponse to the bandh, though the industry said it was notoverly worried for the situation as yet. The GJM has exemptedCensus work and students appearing for examinations from thepurview of the indefinite bandh.

Officials said the situation was now under control andno major untoward incident was reported since Wednesday.

Talking to reporters in Malda in north Bengal,Narayanan said all political parties should play a role inrestoring peace in the Darjeeling Hills and the Dooars.

However, he was not in favour of army deployment inthe trouble-torn areas saying the situation there was "not soserious". The state government wants deployment of army there.

Meanwhile, the GJM again said that nothing short ofGorkhaland is now acceptable and there will be no discussionon interim set-up anymore.

After a meeting at Kumani, four km from Malbazar andnear Sipchu, Gurung reiterated the demand for a CBI probe intothe firing leading to death of two persons stated to beits supporters and alleged a CPI-M hand in the flare-up togain political mileage.

Gurung also did not say when the strike will bewithdrawn. He said relay fast and padayatra in Dooars wouldcontinue in the coming days. "We are determined to hold thepadayatra from Kumani to Sankosh and will continue to camp atKumani till we are allowed to move on."

Jalpaiguri Divisional Commissioner Amarendra KumarSingh said the police had to fire in self defence on the faceof an armed attack by GJM supporters at Sipchu.

Singh, who visited the spot where the firing tookplace, said the police fired on GJM activists as they violatedprohibitory orders and attacked policemen after exhaustingother options.

In Kolkata, CPI-M politburo member Biman Bose allegedthat the Trinamool Congress was behind the latest flare-upin Darjeeling hills as part of its ''design'' to createlawlessness in West Bengal ahead of Assembly polls.

He alleged that Trinamool had been carrying on a"sustained and systematic politics of violence in the state,the latest being in Darjeeling".

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