Photographer's Note

It was a whole trip to Darjeeling was shrouded in heavy monsoon clouds with occasional heavy rain...the only sunny day i got up there was marred by this....mass protest by local people shouting "ayo ayo gorkha li!!" ... a sort of battlecry from the gorkha janamukti morcha (GJM) ...a party representing the gorkha population in darjeeling...

the restaurants were we didnt have food...the shops were closed...and i was running out of batterries...some of the shops which were open denied us giving bottles of hotel manager was only kind enough to give me breakfast of a toast and coffee for 2 dollars...and that's all i could have for the whole day...such a similar fate was that of more than a hundred tourists up there...mostly foreigners...

As the news started to get around evening that the Darjeeling Hills would shut down for four days following the bandh called by the Opposition parties, the tourism industry began to feel the pinch almost immediately...The possibility of a four day shutdown created a panic situation amongst the tourists here, sending the travel agencies into a mad frenzy to get the news confirmed. Those tourists leaving Darjeeling in the next three days were the ones who were affected the most. And when it was confirmed that the bandh would begin as scheduled, there was nothing but frustration and anxiety amongst the visitors.... Faced with the situation of being stranded in Darjeeling for four days with rail or air tickets and just enough money to get back home, a large number of tourists gathered outside the Police Headquarters (including me and a group of foreigners) and pleaded the authority to make arrangement for us to reach Siliguri. “Our flight is scheduled today evening for Kolkata and we are hoping that Police would cooperate with us in solving the problem,” was our point...But we were told that only GJM authority can give us the permission...When we went to the party office they rebounded the whole matter to the police again...And we were just running around from one office to another, frustration and agony were written all over our faces.
Most of us were not informed of the strike either by the tour operators or by the hoteliers.

But ultimately with the help of the administration we finally managed to get out of the mess...we were lucky...some were not...some had to pay almost 50 dollars to get back to Siliguri, which generally is around 5 dollars per head...i know one person whose daughter studies in one of the schools near darjeeling....hearing about the whole crisis, he went to pick her up...he was stopped by GJM supporters in kurseong and was told to walk back 30/40 kilometres on foot...his bike was seized...
I will keep documenting this whole crisis in my next posts...i dunno if any of my fellow TE friends had the bad luck of getting stuck in Darjeeling...but i sincerely hope they do not get into such a mess..

isabela_sor, dhurjati, maloutim ha puntuado esta nota como útil.

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