Gangtok: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)
on Sunday said the National Highway 31A, which passes through
Darjeeling Hills district, has been exempted for the Sikkim
traffic from the indefinite shutdown in the hills as a convoy
of 94 vehicles left Rangpo for Siliguri during the day.
Claiming the GJM had never extended the bandh to the
highway to begin with, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told
reporters here that the NH 31A was open for Sikkim traffic and
out of the purview of the Darjeeling bandh underway in the
To reports that vehicles coming in from Darjeeling
district to Sikkim on February 8 were pasted with posters that
the bandh had been extended to Sikkim traffic and GJM
picketers at Rangpo turning back all vehicles except SNT buses
and trucks on February 9, Giri claimed its cadre had not
indulged in any act of arson on the highway.
He, instead, accused the West Bengal government of
trying to foment tension in the hills.
Supply of essential commodities started drying up in
markets here with West Bengal police escorted convoys leaving
from Rangpo to Siliguri only once a day.
Official sources said for the last few days GJM
picketers had only allowed Sikkim National Transport (SNT)
vehicles to pass on the highway and private vehicles and taxis
were plying at their own risk.
The Sikkim Hotels and Restaurant Association [SHRA]
has urged the people of Darjeeling Hills and GJM leaders there
to allow unhindered vehicular movement to Sikkim on NH 31A as
it was lifeline of the landlocked state.
The SHRA expressed its gratitude towards the people of
Darjeeling for allowing at least SNT vehicles to ply on the
highway during the bandh and condemned the killing of three
GJM supporters in the police firing at Sikchu on February 8.
SHRA President Bhanu Pratap Rasaily said that tourism
was the only sector in Sikkim in which local people were
engaged in gainful employment. This sector, he said, had been
hit due to the current spate of bandhs and travel uncertainty.
Giri is in Gangtok to attend the first general meeting
of the GJM in Sikkim that held today.