Darjeeling, June 11 (IANS): Life was returning to normalcy in West Bengal's troubled Darjeeling hills as no fresh violence was reported on Sunday, but uncertainty prevailed as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) called an indefinite shutdown from Monday.
Many tourists, who were stuck in the picturesque tourist town, reached Kolkata on Sunday heaving a sigh of relief after tense few days in the hills.
The West Bengal government has arranged buses to ferry the tourists free of cost from Sealdah station of Kolkata to their homes.
"We are relieved to be back home. It was a disappointing trip in the hills as we had a harrowing time. The experience was bitter and we lived in fear and could not visit any tourist spot," a tourist said.
Meanwhile, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri claimed that 44 families who had previously switched allegiance from their party to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) are back with the Morcha. TMC leader in the hills Binny Sharma, however, dismissed Giri's claims.
According to Giri, all central and state government offices -- including block development offices, sub-divisional offices and district magistrate offices, banks, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (the hill development body) offices -- will be closed as part of the shutdown from Monday.
However, schools and colleges, transport and tourism -- hotels, eateries, shops -- will be outside the purview of the shutdown.
"There is an uncertainty. We do not know what would happen from Monday even though GJM said tourism will not fall in the purview of shutdown. We are planning to leave for Siliguri in the afternoon. Some tourists are also going to Sikkim," a tourist said here.
After the GJM's central committee meeting chaired by its President Bimal Gurung on Saturday, the party leaders threw a virtual challenge to the Mamata Banerjee-led state government and pressed for a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Giri said the state government's revenue sources like electricity, mines and boulders will also come under the purview of the GJM's shutdown.
After the clash between the police and GJM supporters, the district police launched a search operation.
Five GJM activists have been arrested so far, according to a police official of Darjeeling Sadar police station.
The army units which earlier patrolled Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong towns were not seen on Sunday morning.