Darjeeling unrest: Protesters block NH 31A at some places
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Darjeeling/Gangtok: Protesters on Monday blocked the national highway 31A at some places in Darjeeling district to protest the death of three Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists on Saturday.
The 92km long NH 31A connects Sevoke in Darjeeling district to Gangtok and is considered the lifeline of Sikkim. Around 30km of the highway passes through West Bengal.
Sikkim government officials in Gangtok said they had on Sunday requested their West Bengal counterpart to provide security to vehicles passing through Darjeeling district in NH 31A in view of the GJM agitation. The West Bengal government had assured them that security would be provided to vehicles going to Sikkim or coming from Sikkim and police would carry out extensive patrolling in the highway, the officials said.
However, earlier on Monday, no incidents of violence were reported.
“The situation is still very tense. Since morning there has been no incident of violence but we are on high alert and prepared for any eventuality,” a senior police official said earlier in the day.
Internet services remained suspended and security forces were patrolling the streets on the fifth day of the total shutdown, called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland.
The internet services have been blocked in Darjeeling since Sunday morning. Police sources said the step was taken to stop GJM activists from using social media to spread “messages and provocative posts”. A public library, two panchayat offices and a police vehicle were set ablaze at Kalimpong on Sunday. Kalimpong, part of Darjeeling district until recently, was made a separate district on 14 February this year.
The GJM activists had also taken out a protest march Sunday carrying the bodies of two party supporters who, they alleged, were killed in police firing on 17 June. Police pickets and barricades were placed in front of government and Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) offices and various entry-exit points of the hills. Except medicine shops, all others shops and hotels were closed in Darjeeling.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh spoke to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee for the second time in two days Sunday and appealed to the protesters not to resort to violence and come forward for a dialogue to resolve any issue.
“All parties concerned and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in an amicable environment,” the home minister had said.