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Taxi blockade withdrawn

Darjeeling, Dec. 24: The Sikkim government today lifted the bar on Bengal taxis going up to the heart of Gangtok. Following the decision, the Bengal tour operators' forum decided to call off their plan to block roads along the Sikkim border on Wednesday.

“This morning I received a call from S.T. Tonyot, the additional superintendent of traffic police, East Sikkim, assuring us that our demands have been met. Following the assurance, we decided to withdraw our agitation,” said Pradip Lama, a spokesperson for the West Bengal Tourism Forum.

The forum was formed on December 12 and comprises representatives from Darjeeling and Siliguri. It had demanded that the tourist vehicles from Bengal be allowed to pick and drop passengers from hotels in Gangtok and also take visitors on sight seeing trips in Sikkim. The Bengal taxis had not been able to do so after the Sikkim government directed them to stop at Deorali, about 5km from the heart of Gangtok.

Lama said Tonyot has asked them to put up a placard “with the word reserved written in red against a white backdrop”.

The Sikkim official has also assured the forum that taxis from Bengal would not be harassed along the Ravangala corridor that they use while going to Pelling in West Sikkim from Gangtok.

The forum had alleged that their members were not being allowed to use the corridor and were harassed by the police who said the route was not open to them.

The forum’s decision has come as a relief not only to tourists visiting Sikkim, but to local people as well who often visit their relatives along the border during Christmas.

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