Monday, 30th October 2017

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Two-hour ‘break’ for hill taxis today

Travellers planning sightseeing might face difficulties during the two-hour period on Thursday

By Vivek Chhetri in Darjeeling
  • Published 9.05.19, 1:17 AM
  • Updated 9.05.19, 1:17 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Taxis parked at the motor stand in Darjeeling A file picture

The Himalayan Transport Co-ordination Committee, an umbrella body of taxi syndicates in Darjeeling, has asked its members not to ply their vehicles between 11am and 1pm on Thursday when it will hold an indoor meeting where Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa have been invited.

May is a tourist season in the hills and travellers planning sightseeing might face difficulties during the two-hour period on Thursday.

The committee, which is affiliated to the Morcha’s Tamang camp, also said it would not be responsible for any incidents that might occur if the vehicles hit the streets during the two-hour period.

The GNLF said the statement was tantamount to “a threat” to the drivers.

S.N. Pradhan, the president of the committee, however, clarified that it was asking drivers not to ply their vehicles to show their unity and put forth their problems before Tamang and Thapa, who is the current head of the GTA.

“There is no support for us, either from political parties or administration. We have invited Tamang and Thapa to the meeting so that all our issues can be solved. That is why we have called all our members, both drivers and owners, to the meeting.”

Pradhan said the two-hour “bandh” appeal for their members was also to ensure that their event was not disturbed. “Many years back, bus owners and drivers had gone to attend a meeting in Siliguri in a convoy of 18 buses. However, GNLF people at Tindharia attacked our convoy asking why we were not plying buses on that day. We do not want such incidents to be repeated.”

The committee leaders said there would be no picketing and the appeal was not for private vehicles. “If drivers have to pick tourists, at least the owner should attend the meeting,” said Pradhan.

Y. Lama, a GNLF leader, however, said: “To call a bandh during election period is illegal whether it is for one hour or one day. People in Darjeeling rely on tourism and the appeal made by the committee is clearly a threat to drivers. There might be some tourists who might have to leave at 11am tomorrow.”

Lama said the GNLF would form a drivers’ association in a few days.

“We have appointed Sagar Rai as the coordinator and Ajoy Edwards and J.B. Tamang as advisors for our new association.”

Kuldip Moktan, the president of the Darjeeling Railway Motor Syndicate, who was present at the GNLF’s press conference, said: “Drivers have been affected the most during the 104-day strike. The administration should take note of such threats.”