Darjeeling (WB), Sep 6 (PTI): After nearly three months of shutdown, a large number of shops on Wednesday reopened in the Darjeeling hills, braving threats and intimidation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The development comes two days after shops and markets opened in Mirik and Kurseong sub-divisions in the hills. Though shops at Chowrasta and Chowbazar remained closed, markets near the Darjeeling Station reopened.
West Bengal Tourism Minister Gautam Deb held a peace rally in the Darjeeling hills and urged the people to speak out against the “divisive politics” of GJM chief Bimal Gurung. “On Monday shops had opened in Mirik and Kurseong, on Wednesday this was replicated in Darjeeling. People are against the divisive politics of Gurung. They want peace and stability,” he said. Deb urged people to restore normalcy and peace in the Darjeeling hills where the GJM-sponsored indefinite strike entered the 84th day. The TMC also distributed food among people who had gathered in large numbers at the Gadidhura near Sukna.
The GJM leadership, however, refused to comment on the development. Two leaders of the GJM’s women’s wing ‘Nari Morcha’, Sabita Rai and Pompa Lama, joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday morning. GJM treasurer of Rohini tea garden Bhimsen Oron along with 150 tea workers also joined the TMC, party sources said. The search operation to trace absconding GJM chief Gurung, against whom cases have been lodged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), continued in the Darjeeling hills and adjoining areas. Rallies in support of Gorkhaland and the ongoing shutdown were taken out in parts of Darjeeling, Sonada and Kalimpong. Picketing by GJM supporters was strengthened in some areas, and posters and leaflets were distributed in support of the strike. Internet services in the hills remain suspended since June 18.