The Darjeeling hills woke up on Saturday to see a large number of people thronging the markets and joining serpentine queues outside banks and ATMs as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called a day’s halt in the ongoing agitation to press for a separate State of Gorkhaland.
The relaxation extended to markets, shops, financial establishments and the transport sector after a 12-day agitation spell. There was rush outside every shop as people replenished their supply of food and other essentials. Vehicles were also seen on the roads in Darjeeling and the other two subdivisions, Kurseong and Kalimpong in the hills. About 22 buses of the North Bengal Surface Transport Corporation were made available to the passengers in the hills.
The shutdown will resume from Sunday and the GJM has given a two-day call to the people in the hills to observe “Ghar Bhitra Janata” where the people will remain inside their homes from September 2. The call has been given ahead of the visit of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to the hills where she is scheduled to attend a programme organised by the members of the Lepcha community at Kalimpong on September 3.
The next few days are crucial as the GJM leaders are expected to take a call on keeping the educational institutions outside the ambit of the agitation.
Enos Das Pradhan, chairperson of the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC), a conglomeration of the political outfits in the hills including the GJM, said the people’s resolve for the cause of Gorkhaland now seems to be crystallising. “This is reflected in the success of the agitation,” he said.
“The fresh movement started after the Centre agreed on the creation of a separate State of Telangana on July 29. The people in the hills deserve credit as there has not been any major incident of violence,” Mr. Pradhan told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.