Dec. 10: As Kalimpong went through with the first day of the 72-hour strike, the breakaway GNLF(C) today took a dig at state minister Asok Bhattacharya and claimed that his outburst at the parent party was a ploy to bargain seats for the coming elections in the hills.
Though Kalimpong remained peaceful, the strike cut off Sikkim with traffic on National Highway 31A — the only road linking the state with the rest of India — coming to a halt. The GNLF’s Kalimpong committee has, however, decided to allow Sikkim-bound vehicles to ply on the highway from Wednesday.
The strike crippled Kalimpong with offices, markets, shops and banks remaining closed and vehicles staying off roads. Police said no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the subdivision. “We have installed pickets at every possible point in and around the town. Security will be tightened during the night,” a police official said.
Life in the rest of the Darjeeling sub-division remained normal but Sikkim bore the brunt of the strike as the highway snakes through Kalimpong.
The strike was called by the GNLF to demand the arrest of C.K. Pradhan’s murderer and to protest Bhattacharya’s remarks insinuating that the party leadership was involved in the killing of the dissident leader.
The GNLF(C), which was silent on Bhattacharya’s allegation that the murder was a fallout of “intra-party rivalry” in the GNLF, said the MLA from Siliguri was “playing his own game”.