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Featured Image: Black flags like this have been put up all over the Hills. 

By A Newsman

Siliguri, 1 June: ALL schools and colleges in Darjeeling Hills today remained shut on the first day of a two-day educational strike called by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Morcha called the strike to oppose state government’s plan to make studying Bengali mandatory in class I-X both in private and public schools of all boards. The party considers this to be a ploy to “snatch the right of the Hills people to study their mother tongue Bengali.”

Despite appeals by the Darjeeling district magistrate Joyoshi Dasgupta and superintendent of police Amit P Javalgi yesterday maintaining that it was a complete misinterpretation of facts, almost none of the educational institutes in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in the Hills today opened their gates.

Students also did not venture out of homes to go schools or colleges, and thus making the first day of the strike a huge success. The strike is scheduled to continue tomorrow as well.

GJM cadres today put up black flags on electric and telephone poles on different parts of the Hills in advance preparation of the party’s second phase of agitation on the issue from 4-8 June. On those five days, coinciding the scheduled tour of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, GJM has decided to hold black flag rallies in the Hills and also wave flags.

The Chief Minister has, however, clarified that the state government would introduce the three-language formula in the state from the next academic year. The move makes it mandatory for the students to study Bengali, and two more languages of their choice from among a set of recognised in the state that includes Nepali.