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Shutdown to counter Mirik meet
- GNLF calls general strike in tourist town on Sunday

Darjeeling, June 30: The GNLF has called a general strike in Mirik on Sunday (July 2), the day the PDF has lined up a public meeting in the tourist town, around 35 km from here.

Though the GNLF is fighting a legal battle over the alleged 'defamatory speeches' made by the Opposition against it on the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scam, Subash Ghisingh's party believes that only a direct confrontation with the rival camp can help its cause.

'The strike has been called to stop the PDF meeting in Mirik,' said L.B. Rai, GNLF leader and the chairman of Mirik Municipality. He added that the strike has also been called to 'demand the immediate arrest of the prime accused in the scam Lakpa Rynden'.

However, the main objective is to disrupt the meeting. 'An FIR has been filed and investigations are on. But even then, the Opposition is making noises. This has to end,' said Rai. According to the GNLF, the 'decision' to file an FIR is an indication of the seriousness to bring the truth to light. 'In the given circumstances, we do not want the Opposition to make false propaganda,' said Rai.

The PDF, an anti-Ghisingh coalition, has in its turn maintained that it is surprised that DGHC councillors and senior functionaries were not aware of the Rs 5.5-crore scam, which took place when the GNLF was at the helm of affairs.

Refuting the allegations, the GNLF said the SSA cell was not directly under the DGHC and that the money was not routed to the council's funds.

This is not the first time that the GNLF has tried to arm-twist the Opposition into submission. When the PDF opposed the Sixth Schedule status, the GNLF derailed a number of public meetings by calling strikes. In fact, PDF cadres had been attacked at Bijanbari when they defied the strike.

PDF leaders, however, said they would go ahead with their scheduled meeting. 'We will hold a meeting in Mirik on July 2,' said D.K. Pradhan, a former Darjeeling MLA and leader of the GNLF (C). He added that they have already received permission to hold the meeting.

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