Station destroyed as political unrest curtails Darjeeling services

A STATION on the world-famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) has been destroyed and another badly damaged following several weeks of political unrest in the Darjeeling area.

The situation, at the height of the tourist season, has led to a complete suspension of all DHR services.

Darjeeling Himalayan Railway 0-4-0ST No. 786 outside Gaybari station on February 3, 2015, the structure destroyed in an arson attack as a result of political unrest. PETER JORDAN

Gaybari station was destroyed in an arson attack, while Sonada station and the DHR HQ Elysia building at Kurseong have both been badly damaged by fire.

The cause is agitation by Gorkah separatists (Indians of Nepali origin), who want the area around the famous hill town to split off from West Bengal to create an independent Gorkhaland state.

The DHR took the decision on June 12 to indefinitely suspend all rail services. Tea production has also been halted.

Paul Whittle, vice-chairman of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society said: “With no immediate resolution in prospect, there is clearly a threat of more damage to the railway. We are in constant dialogue with Indian Railways and UNESCO as to how the DHR can be safeguarded in the present troubled situation.”

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