Darjeeling has seen massive protests for over a week over demands of a separate Gorkhaland
As protests continue in Darjeeling over demands for a separate Gorkhaland state, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or GJM today permitted the hill station's premier boarding schools to evacuate students on Friday. Though the city has seen a bandh or shut down for over a week now, GJM says it will permit school buses to ply for half a day on Friday.
Authorities at Mount Hermon School and St Joseph's School say they will make arrangements for students to go home safely. According to the school schedules, summer vacations are to start on Friday.
Inside the campus, life is normal for students, but not so much outside, on the streets of Darjeeling.
Arya Chapagain, a student of Mount Hermon School says, "The situation outside the school is very harsh but we feel protected inside the school as we have been with our teachers."
"These schools have seen things like these in the past and this time they will see through it," says Jason Phu, a student of St Joseph's School.
Rector of St Joseph's School Father Shajumon told NDTV, "Darjeeling used to be one of the quality educational centres but over the years that has shifted because of the political troubles. Schools have lost numbers." Headmaster of Mount Hermon School, Partho Dey, echoed his concerns.
Protests continued on Wednesday as tourists and locals made a mad rush to board the few state-run buses leaving Darjeeling town. To keep order, the police announced first students, then foreigners and then the rest would be allowed to board buses.
Protesters want an assurance on Gorkhaland before even thinking of ending the strike.
"We will continue. We will be right here. They have to talk to us. They have to give us Gorkhaland," said Dolma Bhutia, a Gorkhaland supporter who had organised a memorial for those have died in these protests.
The West Bengal government has called an all-party meeting in Siliguri on Thursday. But most parties won't go as chief minister Mamata Banerjee is away on an official visit to Netherlands. The Morcha says talks will happen only with the centre.