GJM bandh off for 3 days

A day before West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s ultimatum comes to an end, the GJM leadership buckled under the growing pressure and decided to suspend the ongoing indefinite bandh in the hills for three days: August 16, 17 and 18. The GJM had already announced a relaxation of bandh on Independence Day. So in effect, the bandh is being suspended for four days.
An angry chief minister had on Saturday declared the bandh illegal and served a 72-hour deadline virtually directing Mr Gurung to call off the indefinite bandh or face the consequences. She was able to take such a stern stand because the Calcutta high court had last week given a tough ruling against the crippling bandh. “We will respect the court’s order and not try to enforce the bandh,” an evidently perturbed GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
Mr Gurung’s original response to Ms Banerjee’s ultimatum was characteristically combative. He had threatened to impose what he described as janata’s curfew in the hills from Tuesday. There were three principal factors which forced Mr Gurung to retreat. One, the Calcutta high court order which made it clear to both the GJM and the state government that nobody had the right to disrupt normal life of citizens by stopping the functioning of the offices and educational institutions and crippling the transportation system. Two, the failure of the GJM delegation to secure concrete support, not just lip service, for their separate homeland cause from the top Congress leadership. Three, the police crackdown against GJM leaders — so far over 200 of them, including half-a-dozen GTA members, have been arrested.
“Mr Gurung was told by some senior district officials that after the expiry of Ms Banerjee’s ultimatum, the top GJM leadership, including the party chief, would also be arrested if they did not call off the bandh,” sources claimed.
Last, the growing anger among the people of the hills and Mr Gurung’s increasing isolation. Life has been paralysed for the past 10 days in the hills. The shortage of essential commodities and the severe inconvenience caused by the collapse of transport system have left the people seething. “Mr Gurung was left with no option. The suspension of the bandh for three days is his attempt at a face-saving escape from a humiliating defeat,” sources pointed out.

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