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.
The question of how students would get the transport to go back to school remained as the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, which is spearheading the strike, has not taken any decision on allowing vehicles on the road.
Sources in the hills said the Morcha would have to try and restore normality now that the Union home minister has agreed to a tripartite meeting.
Bishan Roka, the spokesman for the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation, said: “The major discussion at the meeting was on how to keep educational institutions open and also to carry on with the agitation for achieving the people’s aspiration. It was decided that all educational institutions would be kept open from September 13 onwards, but vehicles would not ply.”
The Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation gave out five phone numbers today — 9002457750 for Kalimpong, 9851382665 for Kurseong, 9593913585/9733019414 for Darjeeling and 9547018350 for Mirik — in case schools or parents face any difficulty.
The Morcha decided on which day to open the schools after speaking to representatives of the Janmukti Secondary Teachers’ Organisation and the Janmukti Primary Teachers’ Organisation today.
The joint action committee is scheduled to meet in Darjeeling tomorrow. “The agenda is definitely to discuss the emerging situation,” said a committee leader.
All the schools in the hills have been shut since July 29. Around 10,000 boarders of 45 residential schools have left the hills.
“As far as bringing boarders is concerned, we will co-ordinate with schools and also with the party to arrange school buses and other vehicles to bring them up to the hills,” Roka said.
Students who stay in the hills but far away from their schools may find it difficult to reach their campuses in the absence of transport from September 13.
It was learnt that Morcha chief Bimal Gurung has directed the schools with boarding facilities to try and accommodate local students also in the school hostels.
“The party has also asked the schools to keep the institutions open on Saturdays and Sundays and restrict the holidays so that the syllabus can be covered,” Roka said.
School heads, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “Our primary concern is to open the schools as it has been shut for almost a month now. Regarding logistics, we are hopeful that things will ease out and a solution will be found. We have a week’s time in our hands.”
A source in the hills said: “At some time, normalcy has to be restored. Moreover, the Union home minister has already agreed to convene a tripartite meeting and the party definitely has to think of other forms of agitation other than shutdowns.”
CM attacks Centre, Morcha
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday launched a scathing attack against the Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for bypassing the state and holding talks in Delhi “to divide Bengal”.
The talks between the Union home minister and a hill team recently infuriated Mamata. “I would like to remind them (the Morcha) that they must not cross the lakshman rekha. If they do, there will be consequences,” she said.
“Those at the Centre, especially the Congress, are trying to go behind the state’s back and divide Bengal. This is for the sake of one Lok Sabha seat.... The Centre must remember... that the state cannot be kept out of these discussions.”