Darjeeling limps back to normalcy as Army patrols streets
A day after a 12-hour bandh called by the influential Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) for revival of Gorkhaland agitation, life limped back to normalcy here even the Army continued to patrol Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong towns. People in the region resumed their daily work with hotels, shops, eateries and markets reopened after a 12-hour hill shutdown called by the GJM on Friday against "indiscriminate police action" on their activists during the protests.
Following Thursday's violence between GJM supporters and the police, the GJM Yuva Morcha had called a bandh yesterday protesting against alleged imposition of Bengali language in the schools in the hills as well as for a separate Gorkhaland, among other issues.
Tourists gradually started arriving in Darjeeling after transportation facilities were put back in order.
Several hotel owners, however, said they have been receiving calls to cancel the bookings of many tourists.
"This is a peak season and we have seen a surge in tourism here. If this continues, our business will take a dip as we depend on this season for our living. We are trying to convince the tourists that everything is fine but many of them are insisting on cancellation of bookings," Shibshankar Majumdar, manager of a hotel near Mall area, said.
Several tourists reached Kolkata availing the free bus service provided by the state government in the wake of the unrest in the hills.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who was already in Darjeeling on Thursday, had stayed back after trouble broke out and supervised the entire operations.
State government sources said the chief minister, who had descended to the plains of Darjeeling district late last night, will take stock of the situation in the hills from there itself.
Banerjee, who spent last night at Uttar Kanya, the mini- secretariat in north Bengal, is likely to hold a meeting there with Chief Secretary Basudeb Banerjee, Home Secretary Malay De, Director General of Police Surajit Kar Purkayastha and other senior officials in the afternoon regarding the next step to tackle the situation in the hills.
The state government has also announced a special audit of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration's (GTA) handling of finances in another two weeks. The district Aadministration has also sealed the GJM run GTA headquarters Bhanu Bhavan following allegations that the leaders had incited people to resort to violence.
Meanwhile, GJM today called an emergency central committee meeting to decide on future course of action.
Six Army teams, each comprising 43 personnel, have been deployed in the three hill towns after Thursday's flare up during a protest by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) pressing for a separate Gorkhaland.
Three Central Reserve Police Force companies were also deployed.
A case has been launched against GJM activists including chief Bimal Gurung on various counts including criminal conspiracy, arson, incitement of trouble, the police said.
The Trinamool Congress brought out a peace rally in the hill town on Saturday morning decrying the violence "perpetrated by the GJM".
The state government has replaced Darjeeling superintendent of police Amit Javalgi with Akhilesh Chaturvedi, who was serving as the deputy commissioner (Central), Kolkata Police. The government has also sent a team of three senior IPS officers to monitor the situation.