Darjeeling: The Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling was suspended for 48 hours from on Tuesday after a thunderstorm swept through the hills uprooting trees and snapping electric wires and telephone cables.
The thunderstorm last night uprooted trees at many places in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong towns, civil defence sources said.
Two persons were injured in the thunderstorm at Lewis Jhupri, they said.
"The agitation is being suspended for two days because of the damage caused by the storm and will be resumed on August 22 or 23," said Roshan Giri, General Secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), which is spearheading the movement for a separate state.
The agitation would, however, continue during the day at Kalimpong, he said.
In a post on social networking website Facebook, GJM President Bimal Gurung said that last night`s thunderstorm had caused damage in many places in the hills, with roads blocked by uprooted trees.
Echoing Giri, Gurung said the GJM was `assessing the damage` and it would take two days for restoration of normalcy in the hills.
Stating that a rally would be organised on August 22, he claimed that `Ghar Bitra Janta` (people inside home) agitation, which concluded yesterday, was "a huge success" and the next would be peaceful rallies, `Janta Sadak Ma` (people on the roads) for four days.
Shops, markets, government offices, banks and post offices, however, remained closed in the hills.
At the district magistrate`s office no employee was present, visiting reporters found.
Schools and colleges remained closed, except Ramakrishna Primary Teachers College where final examinations of the one-year course were being held.
Tea planters in the hills has decided to approach the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, under the banner of which the agitation was now continuing, as tea stocks were piling up in the hills, said Sandeep Mukhopadhay, Adviser, Darjeeling Tea Planters` Association.
The agitators has banned transportation of tea and timber from the hills.
Mukhopadhay said that as tea garden owners were unable to transport stocks they should not be blamed if they decided to shut shop and move away.
He said that transportation of tea should be allowed in the interest of tea garden workers.
Though tea gardens were open there was no work at the cinchona plantations.
On the security front, the CPRF, IRB and striking force were deployed on National Highway 31A, the lifeline of Sikkim, police sources said.
One company of CRPF was also deployed at Sonada, a sensitive area, 18 km from Darjeeling town as a precautionary measure, the sources said.
Each company of CRPF comprises 100 security personnel.
They said that a GJM labour wing leader, Kharga Vikram, was arrested from Kalimpong town, taking the total number of arrests during the agitation to 600.