Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Gorkhaland protests: GJM gives 12-hour ‘window’ to Darjeeling schools to evacuate students

Darjeeling unrest: St Joseph’s School, North Point. (Express photo: Partha Paul)
  • Darjeeling unrest: Indefinite strike called by GJM continues
  • Union minister SS Ahluwalia seeks for high-level probe into police firing in Darjeeling
  • Indefinite bandh in Darjeeling hills to continue: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the protests for a separate Gorkhaland, on Wednesday gave a 12-hour window on June 23 to various schools in Darjeeling hills to evacuate students as normal life continues to be crippled on the seventh day of the indefinite shutdown. In a statement to PTI, GJM leader Binay Tamag said: “The students will be allowed to go to Siliguri and Rongpo only in school buses. The indefinite shutdown will continue. Only the students will be allowed to leave safely. Meanwhile, the strike has forced around 528 boarding students of 128-year-old St. Joseph’s School to stay on campus with many day scholars unable to attend school, as per reports in ANI. Utsav Thapa, a student, said they are safer inside school premises but are forced to take two exams in a day in place of one. Speaking to ANI, Thapa said: “We are safe inside. We used to have one exam a day, after the strike, we are forced to take two exams a day.
Meanwhile, the strike has forced around 528 boarding students of 128-year-old St. Joseph’s School to stay on campus with many day scholars unable to attend school, as per reports in ANI. Utsav Thapa, a student, said they are safer inside school premises but are forced to take two exams in a day in place of one. Speaking to ANI, Thapa said: “We are safe inside. We used to have one exam a day, after the strike, we are forced to take two exams a day. Darjeeling is home to some of the oldest and renowned boarding schools in the country.
Utsav Thapa, a student in Darjeeling. (Source: ANI)
In an all-party meeting convened by the GJM on Tuesday, a resolution was passed wherein it was decided that the shutdown would continue until security forces were withdrawn. The GJM also decided to withdraw from the tripartite accord on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Security forces and the police patrolled the streets of Darjeeling and police pickets were set up at the entry and exit routes. Aside from pharmacies, all other hotels, shops, and restaurants remained closed. According to PTI, there were also reports of some tea garden workers being beaten up by GJM supporters in Naxalbari area, which is around 65 km from Darjeeling. However, GJM, has denied the reports.
128-year-old St. Joseph’s School. (Source: ANI)
Several rallies were taken out by the GJM in various parts of the hills demanding a separate state even as Internet services remained suspended. Locals, however, termed it as an “oppressive step against a democratic movement.” The parties, which attended Tuesday’s meeting, also decided not to participate in the June 22 all-party meet called by the West Bengal government to discuss the prevailing situation in the hills.
In a statement to reporters after the all-party meeting, GJM spokesperson T Arjun had said it was also decided that an all-party coordination committee would be formed which would soon send a delegation to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to press for the demand for Gorkhaland.
The Indian Express