20 April, 2009 – The administration and police officials of Darjeeling and Kalimpong have agreed to watch over the safety and security of students studying under their jurisdiction, according to the law and order bureau in the home ministry.
Officials from the bureau met with Bhutanese Students Associations in the hills on March 23 and 24, following the separate-state agitation by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) that unsettled Bhutanese students studying in the two districts.
Bhutanese students were made to participate in pro-Gorkhaland rallies wearing gho and kira following a call for ethnic dress code. Bhutanese students also had to participate in the rallies organised by the youth wing of GJM last year.
A press release from the bureau stated that the students were sensitised on the security aspects following government directives.
“Students were asked to maintain a low profile, keeping in mind they were in another country. They were informed on the probability of high security threat to their lives from anti-social elements,” stated the press release. Students were also asked to move around in groups and reside close, within reachable distance, for security reasons.
The bureau officials also advised students to avoid late night movement and refrain from political activities. They were also suggested to open bank accounts for deposits, owing to a few incidents of burglary and loss of large amounts of cash.
The students were continuously reminded to remain extra vigilant and cautious to avoid any unforeseen event. They were requested to inform their parents not to panic in times of the usual strikes in the hills.
There are about 700 students in Darjeeling and about 505 in Kalimpong.
A Kalimpong student told Kuensel that the problem has subsided after she returned from her winter vacation. However, she said, they expected the government to do something practical rather than merely dispensing advice. “It was good moral support but we expected much more than that,” said the final year student. “We were expecting a government representative to represent us here.”