Tourists Stranded by Strike in Eastern India བོད་སྐད།

Thousands of tourists have been stranded, after a separatist group called a strike in eastern India.

Shops and businesses were closed Tuesday in the tea-producing area of Darjeeling in West Bengal state, after the ethnic Gorkha community began protests demanding an independent state.

The Gorkha Liberation Front has asked tourists to leave the area. Police say roughly 40-thousand people were rushing to go home, but many tourists -- including foreigners -- were stranded due to a lack of transportation.

Officials say a special train would bring tourists back to the plains from the hilly Darjeeling district.

The separatist group's general secretary (Roshan Giri) says the strike will continue until the government accepts demands for a separate state.

West Bengal officials say they are ready to negotiate with Gorkha leaders, but an independent homeland is out of the question.

The ethnic community fought for a separate state in the 1980s under the leadership of the Gorkha National Liberation Front. The group later settled for regional autonomy.