48-hr bandh in Siliguri evokes partial response, 24 held

The Statesman

Siliguri, 1 August – The 48- hour Siliguri bandh called by the anti-Gorkhaland organisations ~ Bangla O Bangla Bhasa Banchao Committee (BOBBBC) and the North Bengal unit of Rastriya Shiv Sena (RSS) ~ beginning today evoked partial response.
The outfits called the bandh to stop the Hill people from purchasing food items and other essentials in view of the post-Telangana volatility dogging the Hills.
The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) offered a two-day breather for 1 and 2 August.
The stir to prevent transportation of the essential commodities to the Hills from the vegetable markets in Siliguri fizzled out as police had swooped down on them before they could start picketing.
Twenty-four bandh supporters, including Mr Mukumda Majumder, BOBBBC president, and Mr Brajogopal Halder, general secretary of the north Bengal unit of RSS, were arrested.
Most of the shops and markets in the town remained closed. Some educational institutions were, however, open.
City autos, rickshaws, buses were found plying as normal.
The vehicles to and from Darjeeling plied normally too, though the number of passengers was not much compared to other days.
However, the traders rued that they are incurring huge losses because of bandh and counter bandh.
“The daily transaction of Siliguri Regulated Market is around Rs 50/60 lakhs and around 35 per cent of our business depends on supplying essential commodities to the Darjeeling Hills,” said the chief executive, Siliguri Fruit and Vegetable Agents’ Association, Mr Tapan Saha.
“But the politics of bandh and counter bandh is adversely affecting our business. No vehicle from Darjeeling Hills today came,” Mr Saha added.
The people from the Hills, who came down to Siliguri from the Hills, expressed resentment over the dragging shutdown there.
“There were very few vehicles plying between Darjeeling and Siliguri now. We are at the receiving end of the turmoil. A bandh can hardly be a solution,” said a resident of Kurseong, Tamu Tamang who came down to Siliguri along with her daughter.
A resident of Oodlabari, Krishna Oraon brought his son and daughter down from the school in Mirik where they are studying.
“My daughter, Santi is a student of Class VI and son, Bharat of Class I in Pinehall Academy. I do not want to put them in risks during this volatile situation in the Hills. So I brought them down,”  he said.
The north Bengal development minister, Mr Gautam Deb, was found making rounds of the roads in the town.  “People have thwarted the bandh. The outfits which have called the bandh are acting at the behest of
the CPI-M. We will do everything to ensure that supply of the essential commodities to the Hills remain normal,” Mr Deb said.
However, the BOBBBC has withdrawn the 48-hour strike tomorrow.

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