West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday appealed to people in the northern hills to maintain peace instead of “playing with fire” as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM)-called indefinite shutdown entered its eighth day yesterday.
GJM is demanding a separate Gorkhaland state.
“I would like to appeal to everyone in the mountains to kindly maintain peace. Solution can be reached through meetings and dialogues only when peace is maintained,” she said before leaving for the Netherlands.
“I don’t differentiate between the hill people and others. We all work everywhere in the state. Burning down things is not the right thing to do. Instead of playing with fire, peace should be safeguarded,” Banerjee said.
Meanwhile, Sikkim said tourism in the state has been hit by the indefinite shutdown and clashes in neighbouring Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
Early yesterday, pro-Gorkhaland activists blocked National Highway 10 that connects Siliguri in North Bengal to Sikkim bringing traffic to a standstill.
According to the tourism department of Sikkim, there has been a fall in the number of tourists since the Darjeeling unrest began as security is a major concern.
“Nearly 17-18 buses are plying every day between Sikkim and Siliguri in North Bengal. So the tourists are coming here. However, the number of tourists has gone down a little bit,” Sikkim Tourism Minister Ugen T Gyatso said.
“The tourists are a bit scared to come here as they would have to travel through the violence-stricken area. We are trying to sort out the situation by talking to the authorities,” he said.
The GJM shutdown entered its eighth day yesterday to push for a separate Gorkhaland state.
Sikkim, situated roughly 126km north of Darjeeling, is famous for its picturesque tourist destinations including its scenic capital Gangtok.
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