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Hills shut over arrest demand

Darjeeling, Aug. 28:The hills came to a grinding halt today, following a 24-hour general strike called by All Gorkha Students’ Union (Agsu) to protest against the alleged failure of the administration to arrest Lakpa Rynden, the prime accused in the multi-crore Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scam.

However, no untoward incident was reported from any of the hill towns of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong.

Almost all education institutions remained shut and attendance in most government offices were next to nil. Two-wheelers stayed away from the road with only emergency vehicles plying. The biggest surprise was the spontaneous reaction to the strike in Kalimpong where despite no major announcement earlier, apart from a couple of posters put up at Damber Chowk, the town remained completely closed.

Life was normal in the tea gardens and the cinchona plantation as Agsu had left them out of the bandh purview.

Roshan Giri, president, Agsu, central committee, said: “We would like to thank the people for their spontaneous response. We will carry on with our demand for the arrest of the prime accused and if the administration fails to do so, the agitation will continue.”

The central committee of Agsu is expected to meet on Wednesday to reassess the situation and discuss their next course of action.

With the GNLF remaining non-committal, Gaulan Lepcha, MLA, Kalimpong, said: “We neither supported the strike nor opposed it as the matter is sub-judice.”

Lepcha’s comment has created a confusion especially since it is not clear what he means by “sub-judice”, as the case has not yet come up in court for hearing (and is therefore not sub-judice). The court had only issued a warrant of arrest proclamation and attachment against Rynden.

The Criminal Investigation Department too has issued a “look-out” notice for Rynden at all exit points across the country.

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