Bimal Gurung (right) in Cooch Behar on Sunday. Picture by Main Uddin Chisti
Darjeeling, May 4: The All Transport Joint Action Committee has “advised” tourists to adjust their tour plans for May 7 when most hired vehicles in the hills will be busy ferrying Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters to Siliguri for a public meeting at Indira Maidan.
The transport committee, which has 48 taxi syndicates in its fold, is an affiliate of the Morcha.
“The advisory is being issued so that tourists do not feel harassed. All our vehicles will be going down to Siliguri for the rally (to be held on Wednesday). There will be no general strike. Taxis bringing in tourists from the plains or anywhere else will be allowed a free passage,” said Sabu Rai, the vice-president of the transport committee.
This means that tourists might not find taxis to tour spots in and around the hill town on that day because it is the local taxis that take visitors on sight seeing trips.
Rai, however, has an alternative travel plan ready for the visitors. “There are a number of places, which are within walking distance. The day will not go waste,” said Rai. He listed the spots — Darjeeling Himalayan Institute, the zoo, Nightingale Park, Lloyd Botanic Garden and Happy Valley Tea garden, Japanese Peace Pagoda and Tibetan Refugee Centre — that he felt could be covered on foot. He added that tourists could also enjoy toy train rides.
The places that the tourists might have to miss will include Tiger Hill, Rock Garden, Tenzing Rock, monasteries in Dali and Mirik and Sukhipokhri, 35km and 18km from here.
“People will only have to adjust their travel plans. Usually it takes two to three days to cover places in and around the hill town. Instead of going to Mirik on May 7, for example, they can easily list it for the next day,” said Rai.
Tourists planning to leave Darjeeling on that day can avail of taxis that come from Siliguri and other parts of the region.
The Morcha is planning to take “thousands of supporters” to Siliguri on Wednesday with Binay Tamang, media and publicity secretary of the Morcha, “requesting” at least one member from each family to go down for the rally.
“We request every family to send at least one member. However, we also request those attending the public meeting not to shout any provocative slogans against anyone. Every local unit of the party will be responsible for maintaining order throughout the day,” said Tamang.