Darjeeling, Sept. 5: Schools in the Darjeeling hills will open on September 13, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said today in its first definite step to ease the statehood strike.
It is, however, not clear if the students would get transport to schools as the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, which is spearheading the statehood agitation, has not taken any decision on allowing vehicles to ply.
Sources in the hills said the Morcha would have to restore normality at a time the Union home minister had agreed to a tripartite meeting.
The Morcha fixed the date of reopening of schools following discussions with the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation and the Janmukti Primary Teachers’ Organisation.
Bishan Roka, the spokesperson of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation, said: “The major discussion at the meeting today was on how to keep educational institutions open and carry on with the agitation simultaneously. It was decided that all educational institutions would be open from September 13, but vehicles would not ply.”
The secondary teachers’ union announced five phone numbers — 9002457750 for Kalimpong, 9851382665 for Kurseong, 9593913585/9733019414 for Darjeeling and 9547018350 for Mirik — in case schools or guardians faced difficulties ferrying students.
The joint action committee is scheduled to meet in Darjeeling tomorrow. “The agenda is definitely to discuss the current situation,” a committee leader said.
All schools in the hills have been shut since the statehood agitation restarted on July 29. Around 10,000 boarders of 45 residential schools have left the hills.
“As far as bringing back boarders is concerned, we will co-ordinate with the schools and the Morcha to arrange for school buses and other vehicles,” Roka said.
Students who live in the hills but far away from their schools may find it difficult to attend classes in the absence of transport.
It was learnt that Morcha chief Bimal Gurung has requested schools that have boarding facilities to accommodate local students in the hostels.
“The party has also asked the schools to keep the institutions open on Saturdays and Sundays and cut down on holidays so that the syllabus can be covered,” Roka said.
A school head said: “Our primary concern is to open the schools as they have been shut for almost a month. Regarding logistics, we are hopeful that things will ease out and a solution will be found. We have a week’s time.”