The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice of contempt to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for repeatedly blocking the National Highway 31-A connecting Siliguri in West Bengal with Gangtok in Sikkim during their agitation for a separate Gorkhaland State.
The contempt notice to the GJM has been issued through its president Bimal Gurung and its assistant secretary and organisation’s public face Binoy Tamang.
Besides the GJM, the notice has also been issued to Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Bachayo Samiti through its president Mukanda Majumdar. The group is opposed the GJM demand for a separate State to be carved out of northern West Bengal districts.
Both organisations have been hauled up for defying the Supreme Court directions July 3, 2008, and January 25, 2010, restraining them from blocking the National Highway 31-A connecting Sikkim with the rest of the country.
The central, West Bengal and Sikkim governments too have been asked to explain the steps they have taken to enforce the directions of the court.
The vacation bench headed by Justice Deepak Verma and comprising Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan issued the contempt notice after senior counsel P.H. Parekh — appearing for petitioner O.P. Bhandari, a Gangtok based lawyer — said that the GJM and its leaders were flouting the court’s directions with impunity by repeatedly calling for strike and blockade of the National Highway.
He said in retaliation, the Bachayo Samiti too resorts to counter agitation.
Mr. Parekh told the court that since December 14, 2009, the contemnors have blocked the National Highway on seven occasions and have already given a call to paralyse the road again, defying the court’s restraint order.
The last blockade was on May 15-16, 2010.
The senior counsel told the court that Sikkim was a landlocked State with China, Bhutan and Nepal bordering it. He said that National Highway 31-A was the only link between Sikkim and the rest of the country.
Mr. Parekh said that once this link is snapped, the hill State gets totally isolated resulting in untold miseries to the people in terms of food supplies, medicines, movement of transport and tourists.
The court was told that there was no civil airport or rail connectivity with Sikkim.
The petition said that besides blocking the national highway, the agitators resort to violence by attacking and burning the vehicles coming from and going to Sikkim.