All schools and colleges in the Darjeeling hills would be exempted from the purview of the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state and reopen from September 1, a top Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader on Thursday said.
The decision to keep the educational institutions, which were closed since July 29, out of the ambit of the agitation would be formally announced in the next few days, GJM publicity head Hara Bahadur Chhetri said.
As classes were not held regularly in the 45 or so schools in the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseons, most of the outstation students began to vacate the hostels from August 1.
Chheti, GJM's Kalimpong MLA, said the exemption decision was taken after considering the pleas by the guardians not to jeopardise the future of their wards. GJM sources also indicated that offices might also come under the exemption ambit, but no final decision was taken.
Meanwhile, the Lepcha community, who are the original inhabitants of the Darjeeling hills, are preparing for bestowing their "highest honour" to state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee who might visit the hills on September 2.
Sources in the Darjeeling Lepcha Development Council on Thursday indicated that Mamata would receive the honour at Siliguri's Bagha Jatin Park. In last Monday's devastating storm, the house where Hindi film 'Barfi', featuring Ranbir Kapoor in the lead, was shot extensively was damaged.
The Additional District Magistrate of Darjeeling, Gopal Lama, said that the house known as Bhutia Bustee is near the picturesque Lebong village. Lama said 12 wards in the Darjeeling town suffered large-scale damage in the storm, estimated at Rs 2 crore.