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Gangtok taxi bar fuels row

Darjeeling, Dec. 23: A Bengal tour operators’ forum has decided to organise road blockades along the Sikkim border on Wednesday to protest against taxis being denied entry into Gangtok.

“We had written a letter to the Sikkim chief minister saying our vehicles should be allowed to drop visitors at hotels and ferry them on sight-seeing trips,” said Pradip Lama, a member of the the West Bengal Tourism Forum.

“Since the government has not responded, we have decided to organise blockades in the border areas on December 26.”

Trouble had been brewing between tour operators from Darjeeling and Siliguri and the Sikkim government after the hill state directed all taxis from Bengal to drop tourists at Deorali, 5km from the heart of Gangtok.

Lama said the spots where the blockades would be set up had not been finalised. He, however, added that all Sikkim-registered vehicles would be stopped from plying to places like the Bagdogra airport and Darjeeling town.

“We might set up blockades in Siliguri, too, to stop Sikkim vehicles from taking tourists to the New Jalpaiguri railway station,” said Lama.

“We had given a week to the Sikkim government but since they have failed to find a solution to the problem, we have no other option,” Lama said.

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