Ensure no forcible shutdown, court tells Mamata

In the wake of GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling Hills, Calcutta High Court directed the West Bengal govt to ensure there was no forced shutdown.

Kolkata: In the wake of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-sponsored indefinite shutdown in Darjeeling Hills, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed the West Bengal government to ensure there was no forced shutdown and asked it to submit a compliance report in seven days.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking the court`s intervention against forced shutdowns, a division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalyo Bagchi asked the state government to ensure that railways, offices and education institutions are not subjected to forcible shutdowns.

While pronouncing the order, the bench however, remarked "democratic aspirations of the people cannot be curtailed forcibly" and added that "such shutdowns are undemocratic".

The court also asked the Mamata Banerjee administration to furnish a copy of the order to the representatives of the GJM.

The high court earlier had declared bandhs (shutdowns) illegal.

Life in the North West Bengal hills has been crippled since the past week following the GJM`s indefinite shutdown to press for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district. The move came after the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance`s endorsement of statehood to Telangana.

Over 100 GJM supporters and activists have been arrested in the past few days for picketing or trying to use force to ensure the shutdown.