Darjeeling, the beautiful 'Queen of the Hills', is reeling under the ill effects of an indefinite strike.
Last week, three persons were arrested in Darjeeling for their alleged involvement in arson and violence that took place in the hills in June.
The situation in Darjeeling hills remains tense, although no incident of violence was reported. The indefinite strike demanding a separate state in the hills is underway for more than two months.
The Internet service in the hills remains suspended since June 18, 2017. The indefinite strike has hit local economy. Because the situation is tense, the tourism industry has hit badly. Tourism is a major revenue source in the region.
As efforts are underway to restore normalcy, let's discover the beauty of Darjeeling and how it has been devastated by the agitation.
Set amid the emerald-green tea plantations and snow capped Himalayan peaks, Darjeeling is a popular hill station in West Bengal. This place is a paradise for nature lovers as well as people seeking some time away from their routine life. The night beauty of Darjeeling has been perfectly captured here.
Where else can you find a small steam engine pulling mini coaches up the steep mountains through breathtaking landscapes and overcoming almost impossible curves and gradients using engineering technology and creative skills? The toy train is something nobody can skip. But do you know it has incurred a loss of Rs 2.5 crore?
This place is visited by domestic as well foreign tourists to experience the process of tea cultivation by the locals.
The town was founded in 19th century by the British. Darjeeling has been famous for its tourism destinations over the years. It is a heaven for tourists with interesting spots like Rock Garden, Peace Pagoda etc.
But there is something that has almost ruined the beauty of this place leaving its citizens in a state of destruction.
The unrest began in June when the state government made Bangla language compulsory in schools, including in the hills – setting off a fierce round of protests that turned violent on June 15 when police raided the office of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.
The agitators are steadfast on their demand to carve out a separate state of Gorkhaland, though the state government has ruled out any concessions. Caught in the middle are the locals and the economy of Darjeeling that now resembles a ghost town.
Government and private properties worth crores have been burnt and vandalised. This includes vehicles, office buildings, tourist lodges, two railway stations of the UNESCO world heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and five hydro power generation projects.
I recently came across one entrepreneur couple Amit Sengupta and Mousumi Kar who care about mother nature and have launched a digital campaign called #IamforDarjeeling to save this city. When nobody cared about their land, the couple along with other online supporters are gathering help.
The total loss that the tourism of this city has incurred is approximately Rs 400 crore in last 50 days of agitation, which is still continuing.
An initiative in the name of Blackboard is running online through which all the tourists are supporting the cause in order to restore the normalcy in Darjeeling.
The campaign asks people to share a status on Facebook with the hashtag #IamforDarjeeling. It has reached more than 50,000 people online through social media. A large number of national and international travel bloggers and influencers have shared it online on Twitter and Facebook.
I am in the support of Darjeeling. Are you?
That's all folks!
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