Jalpaiguri (WB): A traders' body, opposed to the GJM, called a 24-hour bandh on Wednesday at Banarhat in Jalpaiguri district affecting normal life.

The Banarhat Byabsayee Samiti, supported by other organisations, called a strike from 6 AM on Wednesday in Banarhat demanding compensation to traders whose shops were torched and the arrest of John Barla, convenor of the Terai-Dooars Coordination Committee and chief of a breakaway faction of the Adivasi Vikash Parishad that had called the indefinite bandh in Terai and Dooars region along with the GJM.

Stating that an FIR was lodged against Barla on Monday for the arson, a spokesman of the Samiti said they also demanded security to people and return of peace.

Local people and businessmen had gheraoed Banarhat police station on Tuesday demanding Barla's arrest and compensation to those whose shops were set on fire.

Pro-bandh activists had set ablaze nine shops at Banarhat and torched a truck and several other shops around the area on Monday.

Educational institutions, shops and markets were closed while private vehicles were off the road at Banarhat during the bandh called by the Samiti with support from bodies like the Amra Bangali and Bangla Bhasa Bachao Committee.

Meanwhile, the situation in the rest of the region was normal on Wednesday as the Terai Dooars Coordination Committee has relaxed the indefinite bandh for two days from Wednesday.

The indefinite bandh has been called by Terai Dooars Coordination Committee backed by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to demand inclusion of Gorkha-dominated mouzas from the Terai and Dooars under the Gorkha Territorial Administration, the new hill council in Darjeeling, set up after an agreement between the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM.

The Dooars lies on the foothills of the eastern Himalayas around Bhutan while Terai is the area near the Siwalik range, the lowest outer foothills of the Himalayas.

"If the government does not give us permission to hold public meetings, the indefinite bandh will resume from April 27," Barla said.

With the GJM not given permission to hold a meeting at Nagrakata on Sunday, its general secretary Roshan Giri warned that should the administration continue to act in this way, his party could 'reject' the GTA in future.

(Agencies)