Darjeeling: Normal life came to a halt here on Friday as Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) activists called a 12-hour shutdown in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, demanding permanent status for 6,000 employees working with Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) on temporary basis.
"There are altogether 6,274 employees working in DGHC now. The state government had promised to make them permanent by Nov 17 this year, but nothing has been done so far.
"We`re demanding permanent status to all DGHC - the district`s governing body - employees and we have called this dawn to dusk shutdown protesting against the administrative delay," GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told A NEWS SERVICE.
According to an official, hundreds of GJM activists had also staged a demonstration on Thursday, squatting in front of the office of Darjeeling district magistrate B.L. Meena.
Shops, markets and tea gardens were closed and buses and cars were off the roads since Friday morning.
The attendance rate was also very low in schools and colleges in the district though they were kept out of the purview of the strike, an official in the district administration said.
"We heard that the district magistrate has gone to Kolkata to hold talks with senior state government officials on this issue. We`re expecting that some positive result will come out of the dialogue process," Giri added.
"We`ll decide our next plan of action after hearing the whole matter from the district magistrate," he said.
The GJM has been heading a movement for a separate Gorkhaland state in the hills, besides opposing the Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling district that ensures greater autonomy to the district`s governing body DGHC.