Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday assured the Sikkim government that the state and its surrounding areas will not be affected by the ongoing Darjeeling unrest, or by protests organised by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The GJM, which has led a shutdown in Darjeeling that is entering its 25th day, want a separate state for Gorkhaland.
Darjeeling has been affected by the ongoing unrest, and there have been reports of vandalism and a lack of basic commodities along NH10, which connects Sikkim with Siliguri. Singh spoke to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and said the central government would ensure safety in the area.
Chamling had earlier said Sikkim has suffered “untold loss” because of the “recurring” blockades on NH10 during protests for Gorkhaland.
The GJM had also begun agitating on Saturday, claiming that four people had been killed in police firing. The West Bengal Police, however, denied this. After news of the alleged deaths came out, the GJM called for protests on Sunday too.
The Centre had said on Friday that it was keen on holding tripartite talks with the GJM and the West Bengal government to end the agitation.
The situation in Darjeeling
Barring medicine outlets, all shops, schools, colleges remained closed on Saturday in the hills. Internet services remained suspended for the 21st day. Police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept vigil on the entry and exit routes. Two Army columns have been deployed to Darjeeling and Sonada respectively. Protestors set a toy train railway station ablaze at Sonata.
The Darjeeling unrest began after Banerjee had announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. Though she had said that hill districts will be exempted from the rule, the GJM began an agitation that soon turned into a revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.