Hills to empty out for plains meet Venue ready for water tankers, ambulances

Darjeeling/Siliguri, May 6: Schools have declared a holiday, tea garden labourers are willing to work on a Sunday instead and government employees in the hills have applied for casual leave: the number of people attending the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s rally in Siliguri tomorrow is expected to cross 2 lakh.
“The number will be something between 2.5 lakh and 3 lakh. We are still running short of vehicles,” said Binay Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
Five parking lots have been earmarked around Indira Gandhi Maidan, the venue of the meeting, for the 10,000 vehicles that are expected to bring down the Morcha supporters from the hills. Hundreds of them have started descending on Siliguri since late this afternoon with almost 1,500 volunteers having reached Pintail Village, 4km from the town.
“Ex-servicemen will be briefing them on traffic management. Another 1,500 volunteers are expected to reach early tomorrow,” said Tamang. The Morcha has in recent times revived the demand for Gorkhaland and is spearheading the movement. Bimal Gurung, the Morcha president, today faxed a memorandum on the statehood demand to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The chief minister had on Sunday told a private news channel in Calcutta that the people of Darjeeling should submit a memorandum, stating their exact demands.
“We will set up five booths, three of which will be at the Darjeeling More-end and two in the Bhaktinagar area to help people in case of any emergency,” said Tamang. The booths will be manned by the volunteers.
Four medical teams with will be stationed near the ground along with seven ambulances. “Nine tankers will supply drinking water to people at the venue,” said Tamang. Eleven speakers, including representatives of the Kamtapur Progressive Party and Greater Cooch Behar Democratic Party, will address the meeting.
Several schools in Salugara, Salbari and Dagapur — areas surrounding the venue — like those in the hills have declared a suspension of classes tomorrow. In the hills, there will be no one to take the classes as teachers, too, will attend the meeting. As for the plains, the authorities have not offered any explanation except that extra classes will be held on Saturday. However, sources at the institutions said the suspension was declared so that students do not face any harassment because of the rally.
Classes will not be held in St Joseph’s High School, Matigara, Don Bosco School Sevoke Road, Delhi Public School and Sister Margaret (Nivedita) School to name a few. Schools in the hills did not want to be named. (The Telegraph)

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