Darjeeling shutdown total, court warns against forcible stir

Darjeeling/Kolkata, Aug 7 (IANS) Life in West Bengal's Darjeeling remained crippled Wednesday due to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-sponsored shutdown even as the Calcutta High Court told the government to ensure that the stir was not forced upon the people.

Home Secretary Basudeb Banerjee, who is in the Darjeeling hills to take stock of the situation and report to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, was forced to walk some distance for an administrative meeting after GJM supporters blocked his way.

The home secretary rubbished the GJM claims that the state government had been interfering with the functioning of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), an autonomous and elected hill development council.

"The government is committed towards development of the region and doing whatever it can," the secretary said.

The Darjeeling hills have been on the boil 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.

With the Banerjee government maintaining a tough stand, ruling out a division of the state, the administration has been on its toes ensuring law and order.

So far more than 130 people have been arrested for picketing or trying to forcibly enforce the shutdown.

Hearing a public interest litigation, the Calcutta High Court asked the state government to ensure that railways, offices and education institutions, are not subjected to forcible shutdowns.

The GJM leadership which has been holding meetings with the central leaders, is likely to meet Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the statehood issue.

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