Gangtok, 25 Jun:

With the general strike in Darjeeling for Gorkhaland entering its sixteenth day on Monday, scarcity of basic commodities in the region, mostly in the hilly parts looms large.

SummitTimes spoke with some of the residents over the phone to learn about the situation and availability of commodities.

Ganga Rai, a resident of the Ava Art Gallery area, said, “We are running out of essentials, especially vegetables. Almost everything including rice, pulses, vegetables, mobile re-charge cards and petroleum products are in short supply.”

Families are now finding it difficult to arrange a proper meal since the vegetable hubs in the region have been shut due to the protracted bandh. Some shoppers have tided over the shortage with supplies from nearby fields but that is a very limited source.

“My phone rings off the hook,” said Ghanshyam, a shopkeeper in the region, when mentioning the number of enquiries he receives from people about possible supplies.

“I am not allowed to open my shop during the day, but I sneak supplies to my regular customers after 9 p.m,” he shares.

Devi Maya of Ging Tea Estate who makes her living by plucking tea leaves and selling organic alcohol said, “We are not short of vegetable supplies yet, but we are feeling the brunt. I cannot make the organic rakshi because of the shortage of rice. We have to ration everything if we have to survive the bandh”.

The residents said they are living in extreme shortage of food and supplies. However they are wary of speaking out, lest they offend the Morcha or Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Their only option as they watch the bandh take its toll is to pray for a miracle to end the bandh.