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Friday, May 14, 2010

Bundh in the Hills starting from tomorrow....Gurung addressed Teachers to redress insecurity feeling...

KalimNews: The attack on Hari Dahal, Secretary of Janmukti Secondary Teachers' Organisation a frontal wing of GJMM on 8th May at Kalimpong, is  a very unfortunate one and this will not repeat in near future assured Bimal Gurung President of GJMM.  While addressing an audience of  Teachers of Kalimpong in Jarvie Hall of Dr. Graham's Homes, Gurung said we will very soon arrange for  a reconciliation meeting with the involved youths of GJYM. Gurung further said that teachers are safe with GJMM. These kinds of unwanted incidents may happen during agitation, but if it is repeated again GJMM will certainly take strong disciplinary action against the culprits, he further assured.
The contribution of JSTO in the agitation  is acknowledged with compliments but still 20 percent members of JSTO are not genuine supporters of GJMM still we will try to make them understand about our move and programme, he added. He said that GJMM still believes in resolution through talks and not in violence. 
He further reminded of the latest secretary level talk and said that GJMM had walked out of the talk as no discussion was made regarding the Dooars covering the area north of National highway and Terai,  and now the Governor is coming to Darjeeling to meet with us. He assured that the agitation is leading in the right path and there is nothing to worry about.
Sikkim Tourism  fears
Prabin Khaling, Gangtok: Tourism stakeholders of Sikkim have been caught unaware by the another 10 days bandh called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in June.
The bandh call of GJM from June 12 to 21 has all but ended the tourism season for both Darjeeling and Sikkim, feared the tour operators here. Sikkim is presently enjoying a bumper season with almost all the 600 small and large hotels in Gangtok and tourism packages booked continuously till June 31, said Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) general secretary Lokendra Rasaily.
According to the figures provided by Tourism department, around 60,500 domestic tourists visited Sikkim in the month of March alone. April and May is the peak tourism season as thousands of tourists wish to take a break from the simmering heat in the plains and visit the cooler climates of Sikkim. 
The footfalls for domestic tourists for April should be more than the figures of April, the tourism stakeholders informed. A total of 4909 international tourists visited Sikkim this year from January to March, the Tourism department said. 
Meanwhile, hundreds of tourists from Gangtok left for Siliguri today early morning in taxi vehicles in order to escape the series of bandh starting from today in the hills and plains. Though there was a strike called in Siliguri, the tourists started moving out of Gangtok since 5 am in the morning up to Salugara. 
Taxi drivers here told media that they have briefed the tourists about the situation in the Siliguri and that they will be dropped at Salugara. Around 100 taxis left from Gangtok since morning to Salugara, the drivers said. Most of the tourists were those who had completed their stay in Gangtok. However, the drivers here in Sikkim are not very sure about traveling along the NH 31A on May 15 and 16. We have to observe the situation tomorrow but we will not be issuing tickets from the counter here, said the mainline taxi counter here at Deorali.
Meanwhile, tour operators here are confident that tourists would not be facing major problems during their stay in Gangtok on May 15 and 16, though upcoming tourism footfalls have been affected with news of political disturbances again flaring up in the Siliguri andDarjeeling spreading. They are more worried about the proposed ten days strike in Darjeeling region.
Political disturbances have again flared up in the neighbouring region and Sikkim will be again choked as anything can happen during the series of bandh, the tour operators said.
“There have been some immediate impacts as a percentage of tourists have started contacting tour operators here and some have cancelled their trips. But the upcoming ten days strike in neighbouring Darjeeling hills is most worrying factor here”, said the tour operators.
TAAS general secretary Lokendra Rasaily said that if the lengthy bandh does take place, the foreign tourists would be most affected as they could have connecting flights to take and reach their home countries.
“Tourists are also contacting the tour operators seeking a diversion or postponement. Diversion of tourists is very difficult as we have limited places as far as Sikkim and Darjeeling region is concerned”, said Rasaily. Northeast region is very far and Nepal is also disturbed, he said.Meanwhile, District Collector (East) D Anandan said that he spoke to his Darjeeling counterpart over the bandh called by GJM on May 15 and 16.
" The Darjeeling DM told me that the NH 31A will remain open during the two day strike. I was told that the highway was out of purview of the strike”, said Anandan. What actually happen in the ground, we have to wait and observe tomorrow, he added.
We will also be in constant touch with the Darjeeling administration over the status of the national highway during the bandh period, said Anandan. Despite an appeal made by a NGO based in the West Bengal region of NH 31A to the drivers to keep off the highway during the bandh period, officials here are of the belief that the NH 31A here will remain unaffected since the GJM has not declared the highway will be closed.
“We have to wait and watch”, said the officials.
The strategy of ‘wait and watch’, however, depends on whether taxi and truck drivers are willing to ply along the 114 kms NH 31A, a major part of which falls under the Kalimpong subdivision of Darjeeling district.
Despite the Supreme Court directives that NH 31A should be kept free from disturbances, the general feeling here among the taxi drivers is to remain off the highway during the strike so as to evade trouble. Their fears stem from the incident of February 18 earlier this year when four vehicles had been vandalized by unidentified group along the NH31A between Tarkhola and Coronation bridge, a day when the GJM had called a general strike in the hills.
Many vehicles had proceeded from Sikkim to Siliguri on that day with a sense of security coming from the apex Court’s directives. But when the news of the attack on vehicles spread, all the vehicles returned back to Sikkim.
The incident had later lead to deployment of CRPF along the highway.

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