Move to lift internet ban brings life back to Darjeeling

A series of pings on cellphones across Darjeeling post Monday midnightheralded the resumption of internet services that had been severed nearly 100 days ago, plunging people in the Hills into virtual darkness.

The lifting of the Net ban paved the way for normality to return in the Hills. The re-establishment of services not only saw people return to the social media with a vengeance, it also enabled online bank transactions, including ATM services, that is crucial for resumption of trade and commerce in the Hills.

Darjeeling DM Joyoshi Das Gupta said the internet ban had been lifted from Tuesday but was subject to scrutiny . “As of now, we have withdrawn the Net ban. However, we will assess the situation and keep a close watch to see what is being uploaded and shared in various social networking sites,” she said.

The Internet ban was put in place on June 17 following an order by the Darjeeling DM asking all broadband and mobile internet service provi ders to temporarily stop Net service in the strike-hit Hills for a week. The ban was then repeatedly imposed, citing the law and order situation. With the state government success fully managing to isolate GJM leader Bimal Gurung, the tide has turned rapidly since last week with most other Hills parties calling for an end to the strike and traders deci ding to open their shops on Sunday .

The lifting of the internet ban brought life back to the Hills. In Darjeeling town, people stepped out to greet each other. Traders who were hesitant on Sunday and Monday were enthused by the sight and opened their shops. By mid-morning, Chowk Bazar was abuzz with activity . Shops in other parts of the town -Pal Market, Beech Gulli, Motor Stand and Orient Line too opened and were soon inundated with people desperate to shop.

Banks were open during regular hours but when they shut at 2 pm, most felt it was too short a time for people to withdraw money.

The lifting of internet ban has come as a relief to students appearing for board exams. Now, they will not have to travel to Siliguri or Gangtok to download project material.”The limited internet service at odd places in the Hills was inadequate. Now things will be easier,” said Anushka Rai, a Loreto School student, appearing for ISC exams.

During the nearly 100-day Internet ban, people of Darjeeling town had given names to places from where scratchy Internet services were available like “Jio Dara” near Hermitage behind Chowrasta and “Reliance Gulli”, a small alley beside the Inox building on Laden La road.

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