With the bandh called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and other pro-Gorkhaland parties still continuing and internet services banned by the government, people in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong faced the worst.
NH 55, which connects Siliguri to Darjeeling, was closed after landslide damaged a portion of the highway at Sepoydhura near Kurseong. Man Kumari Rai was killed when boulders hit her house at Aaloo Bari while Norbu Tamang (78) died at Gaddi Khan on Saturday morning.
It became virtually impossible for the administration to carry out rescue and relief operations in the hills. Joyoshi Dasgupta, district magistrate of Darjeeling said, “We only have a small stock of tarpaulins. Relief department officers and staff are not being able to move because bandh supporters won’t allow cars to ply and the department’s own vehicles have run out of fuel.”
Imposed on June 19 to stop rumour mongering, the ban on internet services added to the woes of the hill people. Praful Rao, president of Save the Hills, an NGO, said, “Without internet it has become impossible to check weather updates, warn communities, receive landslide reports or interact with other NGOs and disaster management agencies.”
In Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills, landslides usually occur during the end of monsoon. This year, monsoon arrived in the first week of June and is likely to continue till the second week of September.