The landlocked state of Sikkim, India, is trapped after GJM called a strike that blocked off transportation on the national highway, which is also considered the lifeline of the state.
An indefinite bandh put on by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), a political party in India, has hindered normal life in Darjeeling and surrounding areas in Northeast India, including the state of Sikkim.
The bandh, which is a general strike backed by the threat of violence against anyone not adhering to its conditions, began July 13 to pressure the government into advancing talks about declaring the hills of Darjeeling, Siliguri Terai and Dooars a state.
GJM will not call off the strike until the government promises a separate state for the people residing in these areas.
Talks were scheduled to take place on Aug. 24, but have since been moved to Aug. 11 as a “goodwill gesture” by the government.
The GJM demanded that the talks be at the “political level” (without bureaucrats), and that the sole agenda of the discussions centers on the creation of a Gorkhaland state.
The highway that is considered Sikkim’s lifeline, NH 31 A, has been greatly utilized to the GJM’s advantage, despite the Supreme Court of India issuing a directive in July 2008 to keep the highway free from all bandhs. All merchandise flow has been restricted, paralyzing the state. It has also led to increased food prices and has caused many shops and other business establishments to close down.
The strike has relaxed at times to replenish the depleted stock of essential commodities, but Benoy Tamang, GJM’s assistant general secretary, told The Hindu, India’s national newspaper, that they will only consider calling off the bandh completely if the talks turn out to be “fruitful” for GJM.
Gospel for Asia-supported missionaries living in Darjeeling are feeling the consequences of the bandh.
“Missionaries are strictly prohibited to preach the Gospel there,” a GFA field correspondent wrote. “The condition is very bad and the local people are afraid to travel.”
They ask for prayer concerning the peaceful resolution of the bandh. Pray also that the Lord will provide a peaceful atmosphere for the missionaries there to continue sharing the love of Christ.