The West Bengal government has issued a show-cause notice to more than 500 ration dealers in the Darjeeling hills for not opening their shops for more than a month during the pro-Gorkhaland agitation called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in the hills, Minister for Food and Supplies Jyotipriya Mullick said on Wednesday.
“We have asked the ration dealers to come for a hearing and explain why their licences should not be terminated for keeping their shops closed, and for not distributing rice and wheat to the people,” Mr. Mullick said.
While all the 275 ration dealers in the Darjeeling subdivision and 161 dealers in Kalimpong subdivision have been issued the order, in Kurseong subdivision, 109 of the 151 ration dealers have been given the notice, the Minister said.
“We have decided to appoint a regional director who will supervise the public distribution system in the hills,” Mr. Mullick said.
According to him, the State government had sent supplies to the hills during the agitation. It had also set up outlets for distribution. However, the dealers did not cooperate.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had expressed resentment over the ration shops being closed.
“The State government had sent rice and other food items available through the rationing system. But the shops were closed. Why did this happen?” she had asked while addressing an event at Kalimpong on September 3.
Meanwhile, a day after the GJM-led Gorkaland Joint Action Committee announced the suspension of the agitation till October 20, shops, markets and other financial establishments opened and people descended on the streets in large numbers.
The GJM leadership, however, alleged that the State government’s clampdown on the party workers continues, with more arrests being made during the day.