94 vehicles leave in convoy from Sikkim for Siliguri

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Gangtok, Feb 13 (PTI) A convoy of 94 vehicles left Rangpoin Sikkim for Siliguri today via National Highway 31A whichpasses through Darjeeling district on the fifth day of the teGorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) sponsored indefinite Darjeelingbandh.

The convoy left Rangpo with police escort in view of thebandh, police said.

They said for the last few days GJM picketers had onlyallowed Sikkim National Transport (SNT) vehicles to pass onthe highway and private vehicles and taxis were plying attheir own risk.

Meanwhile, the Sikkim Hotels and Restaurant Association[SHRA] has urged the people of the Darjeeling hills and theGJM leaders there to allow unhindered vehicular movement toSikkim on National Highway 31A as it was the lifeline of thelandlocked state.

Addressing a press conference here, the SHRA alsoexpressed its gratitude towards the people of Darjeeling forallowing at least SNT vehicles to ply on the highway duringthe bandh.

The SHRA also condemned the killing of three GJMsupporters in the police firing at Sibchu on February 8.

SHRA president, Bhanu Pratap Rasaily, saidthat tourism was the only sector in Sikkim in which localpeople were engaged in gainful employment. This sector, hesaid, had been hit due to the current spate of bandhs andtravel uncertainty.

Rasaily said that although the GJM had assured the nationalhighway would be kept open for Sikkim during the Darjeelingbandh, some unwanted incidents had scared regular traffic offthe highway.

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