Sikkim-bound buses stranded at Siliguri

The Statesman

Siliguri, 29 July – A three-day bandh convened by the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) in the Darjeeling Hills has spilled over in Sikkim as no Sikkim-bound buses today left from Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) depot in Siliguri. Over 100 passengers, mostly from Sikkim have remained stranded.
The GJMM picketers having torched two vehicles ~ one at Malli and the other at Rangpoo in Kalimpong sub-division in the morning ~ triggered the panic leading to the suspension of the SNT buses.
According to the SNT officials, the buses were unable to run, fearing attacks on the road.
However, police said the traffic flow on the National Highway 31-A, which connects Sikkim with the rest of the country, was normal. A stranded passenger, Md Abul Basar, who was supposed to go to Sikkim to get admitted at Sikkim University, could not go as the buses were not running.
“Tomorrow is the last date of admission. I do not know whether I will be able to get admission,” Mr Basar said.
Another passenger, Mr Manoj Kumar Singh, a resident of Muzaffarpur, Bihar, sounded helpless. “I came along with my daughter to admit her to Sikkim University but we could not go because of the bandh. We are stranded,” he said.
A Sikkim resident, Mrs Pramila Lama, said that she and her daughter Prerna were stranded here in the absence of vehicles moving along the NH 31-A.
“We did not anticipate this as the GJMM announced that the highway would be kept outside the purview of the bandh in the Darjeeling Hills,” she said.
An SNT official said the Sikkim transport secretary and the West Bengal government transport department secretary are in touch.
“I hope things would become normal from tomorrow. We have not taken any chance today, apprehending attack by the bandh supporters on the road. Around 120-130 passengers have been stranded here,” the official said.
Around four to five buses ply daily from SNT, Siliguri, with 32 passengers in each bus.
The Darjeeling police superintendent, Mr Kunal Agarwal, said: “Vehicles from Sikkim are moving under police escort.”
“We arrested 10 GJMM supporters from Rambhi for trying to block NH-31A. The traffic flow there is normal now.” he added.

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