Darjeeling, July 6: Life in Darjeeling came to a standstill as pro-Gorkhaland parties continued with their indefinite bandh on Thursday. Due to the ongoing strike, the people in the hills are facing cash and essential items' shortage.
However, the residents have come up with ingenious methods to fight against all odds. The people of Darjeeling have gone back to the age-old barter system to sustain themselves in these difficult times.
Shopkeepers have started selling food and other essential items in exchange of goods and materials from buyers instead of regular currency notes.
Because of the bandh, banks and ATMs are running short of money. Moreover, flow of good and essential items have almost stopped as vehicles from the plains have been stopped from plying in the hills.
Instances like shopkeepers selling biscuits and noodles in exchange of vegetables from buyers have become a regular feature in Darjeeling. Since shops are not allowed to open, shopkeepers are selling things from backdoor.
Otherwise, people are also depending on the goodwill of each other to keep their kitchen running.
Schools, colleges and hotels also remained closed in the hills except for some emergency services. Internet services remained suspended for the 22st consecutive day. Several boarding schools have extended their vacancies due to this ongoing unrest in the hill which has started from June 8.
The bandh has entered the 22nd day on Thursday. On Wednesday, violent incidents were reported from Darjeeling. In one instance, four police personnel were severely injured after a clash broke out between the security forces and locals. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters set ablaze a TMC office and North Bengal State Transport Corporation (NBSTC) ticket counter.
This time, the GJM is spearheading the protest to demand the separate state of Gorkhaland. Over the last few weeks, other pro-Gorkhaland parties too have joined the GJM to demand their homeland.
The entire crisis in the hills began after the Mamata Banerjee government announced the decision to make Bengali compulsory for all schools. The anti-Bengali protest soon metamorphosed into pro-Gorkhaland agitation. Last month, three supporters of the GJM were allegedly killed in a police firing.