A 12-hour strike across the Phuentsholing border had vehicle movements stopped at the gate yesterday.

The strike is happening due to protests led by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM).

Protest started early morning yesterday with thousands taking to the streets. The protest has extended to the entire Duar areas and the Indian police are intervening to stop the movement.

Yesterday’s strike came after two peaceful rallies that were held in the Duars on June 15 and June 16. Bhutanese living across the border was stopped from entering the border town of Jaigaon until the rallies were over.

As agitation in the hill town of Darejeeling is going more violent, protests in Duar areas, such as Kalchini and Dalsingpara, are also gaining momentum. So far, three GJM supporters have been reportedly killed in the clash between the supporters and the police in Darjeeling. A police personnel has also been critically injured.

Meanwhile, thousands of Bhutanese living across the border could be affected. There are Bhutanese living as far as Dalsingpara and Manglabari.

Dungkhag administration of Phuentsholing, in coordination with the counterpart police of Jaigaon, is monitoring strikes and protests so that no Bhutanese is affected.

Drungpa Karma Rinchen said the administration office is constantly in touch with the counterpart across the border.

“We are monitoring the situation,” he said, adding that the drungkhag office has also asked the people living across the border to be careful. “Bhutanese should refrain from traveling to the affected areas.”

Drungpa said that the drungkhag office receives all the necessary information from its counterpart. Immediate actions were taken during the two previous rallies and the strike.

The office confirmed that the Bhutanese students studying in Darejeeling and Kalimpong are all safe.

“We have asked the students to remain indoors,” the drungpa said.

Students in the hills are currently attending exams. If the situation in the hills remains unchanged when students complete their exams, Karma Rinchen said that they would be provided security escort to bring them home safely.

Some students are expecting to finish exams in a few days, while others may finish by end of this month.

Presidents of Bhutanese student studying in Darjeeling and Kalimpong could not be reached for comments.

Karma Rinchen also said that the home secretary and the department of law and order is constantly in touch with the counterparts in both the cases of Bhutanese living in Jaigaon and students in the hills.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing