GJM to support 72-hours strike called by Darjeeling Truck Driver’s Association

GJM to support 72-hours strike called by Darjeeling Truck Driver’s Association
Forgetting its earlier promise of not to inconvenience the people of the hills by calling bandhs, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has decided to extend support to a 72-hours strike that has been called by the Darjeeling Truck Driver’s Association (DTDA) from Thursday.
The truck driver’s association has called the bandh to protest against alleged police atrocities on members plying the Darjeeling-Kurseong to Siliguri route.
On Wednesday Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Sabhasad Jyoti Kumar Rai, GTA’s in-charge of the transport department and the party’s assistant secretary said: “Our party has decided to support the bandh that has been called by the DTDA on moral grounds. The reasons given by the association for calling the strike are valid and justified. The police must stop harassing the truck drivers”.
Before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, after a meeting with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, GJM had assured not to call any bandhs in the Hills so as not to disturb the hills.
DTDA general secretary Rajen Chhetri said members were facing several problems while plying on the Darjeeling to Siliguri route including police harassments. “There are several problems that
have not been addressed by concerned authorities. However, the police atrocities on our members cannot be accepted anymore and so we have decided to call a 72 hours’ bandh from tomorrow in protest,” he said.
When asked to give details of the police atrocities, the association’s general secretary alleged, “Foremost, police are extracting money as fines from truck drivers by imposing new rules and regulations even though our members have kept their documents up-to-date”. Chhetri further said
trucks were not being allowed to enter Kurseong town from 7 am to 10 am and again from 2 pm to 5 pm which was hampering prime hour service.
“We have a very busy schedule to meet but by keeping us out of bound in the town during our prime hours, giving service is being hampered. This needs to be addressed immediately by the authorities,” the general secretary said.
Another grievance of the DTDA that has more than 700 members is the prolonged closure of National Highway 55. The highway has been closed for over four years after landslides swept off major portions of road at Paglajhora and Ghayabari in Kurseong sub-division in 2010 and again in
2011. “The NH 55 is an important link for us but it has been closed for several years. Now we are plying on routes that are longer. How can a highway remain closed for such long period,” Chhetri said.
Although repair work at Paglajhora is more or less complete but the 500 meters stretch near the Tindharia work-shop has not yet started, despite several inspection and surveys by authorities. This has forced vehicles to take the Rohini, Mungpoo and Mirik routes which has caused traffic congestion.
Chhetri said the association had submitted a deputation to the district administration for the redress of their grievances with an ultimatum to resolve the issue within February 24 failing which it would intensify the agitation. “We want the administration to resolve the issue within February 24 or we will intensify our movement,” warned the association’s general secretary.
Gas, petrol and diesel and water and milk trucks have been exempted from the purview of the strike which however will be enforced only on the Darjeeling to Siliguri via Kurseong and Sukhiapokhari routes. (EOIC)

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