New Delhi, Jul 9: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured the Sikkim government that the Centre will ensure the security of national highway 10, the lifeline of the landlocked state, which is facing crisis of essential commodities in the wake of protests and counter-protests over the demand for Gorkhaland in neighbouring West Bengal.
During a telephonic conversation with Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, the home minister discussed the security situation in the state and areas neighbouring West Bengal. "I assured him that the Centre will ensure the safety & security of NH 10 and do everything possible to save people of the state from any misery," he tweeted.
Singh also directed Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to coordinate with the West Bengal administration and ensure the safety, security and smooth traffic on NH 10, which connects Siliguri in West Bengal with Sikkim capital Gangtok. Reports said traffic between Siliguri and Gangtok was affected as drivers of West Bengal-registered vehicles stopped plying to Sikkim.
There have been several incidents reported in the past week when Sikkim-registered trucks were vandalised and looted by unidentified miscreants in Siliguri. There have also been reports of Sikkim-bound taxis, buses and private vehicles being targeted by anti-social elements in Siliguri.
The incidents of violence started after the Sikkim chief minister supported the demand of Gorkhaland and also wrote to the home minister saying it was a justified and long pending demand of the people of the Darjeeling hills. Chamling had said Sikkim has been suffering "untold loss owing to the recurring blockage of its one and only lifeline NH-10, during the last 30 years of Gorkhaland agitation".
Sikkim transporters are on an indefinite strike demanding the immediate arrest of the miscreants who carried out attacks against Sikkim vehicles at Siliguri. They are also demanding that West Bengal give assurance of providing safety to Sikkim-registered vehicles.
Expressing concern over vandalism of Sikkim-registered vehicles in West Bengal, Chamling had said he is planning to move the Supreme Court in this regard. "I am in regular contact with the Union government on the issue and thinking of approaching the Supreme Court to settle the issue at the earliest," he told a meeting in Chisopani in South Sikkim district on Wednesday.