With students at several schools stuck on campuses due to the ongoing protest demanding a separate ‘Gorkhaland’, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Wednesday offered a 12-hour "window" on June 23 to schools in the Darjeeling hills to evacuate their students safely to Siliguri and Rongpo.
"The central committee of our party has decided to offer a 12-hour window, from 6 AM to 6 PM on June 23, to the schools in the hills to evacuate their students.
"The students will be allowed to go to Siliguri and Rongpo only in school buses. The indefinite shutdown will continue. Only the students will be allowed to leave safely," senior GJM leader Binay Tamang told reporters here.
He said barring school buses, no other vehicle would be allowed to leave the hills during the 12-hour "window".
With supplies running out and the vacations to start shortly, the renowned boarding schools of Darjeeling are facing a harrowing time due to the shutdown.
Darjeeling is home to some of the oldest and renowned boarding schools in the country, but with the GJM-sponsored indefinite shutdown over the demand of a separate Gorkhaland entering its seventh day today, the school authorities are at their wits' end as regards how to send the students home once the vacation starts next week.
"We are facing two problems presently. One is of the supply of food stock and another is of sending the students home," Rabindra Subba, the principal of Himali boarding school, said.
The strike has forced around 528 boarding students of 128-year-old St. Joseph’s School to stay on campus with many day scholars unable to attend school, as per reports in ANI.
Utsav Thapa, a student, said they are safer inside school premises but are forced to take two exams in a day in place of one.
On Tuesday, a GJM-sponsored all-party meeting said that the indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling hills will continue until security forces are withdrawn. It also decided to withdraw from the tripartite accord on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).
Meanwhile, the Sikkim Democratic Front, the ruling party in this north-eastern state, extended its support to the "democratic demand" for a separate Gorkhaland. It expressed its opposition to the "illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional" acts committed in Darjeeling.
Thousands of people from all walks of life took out candle light march in Gangtok in solidarity with the people of Darjeeling.
An indefinite bandh was called in the hills by GJM on June 15.