Deploy more forces in the Hills: HC tells Centre
The Calcutta high court on Friday directed the Centre to deploy four additional companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) within 48 hours in the Hills.
The High Court's direction has brought an end to all arguments raised by the Centre against the Bengal government's request to deploy additional CRPF in Darjeeling to check the ongoing violence.
This comes at a time when Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been repeatedly lashing out at the Centre for not responding to state government's request for deploying additional companies of CRPF.
At present, there are 11 companies of Central Armed Police Force including three women companies of SSB and three women companies of CRPF. The division Bench of the acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty ordered the Centre on Friday to deploy four companies of CRPF in addition to the existing force in the Hills.
The court has also directed the state government to deploy more of its forces to the Hills to bring the situation under control. A direction has also been given to ensure the security of the judicial officers in the Hills.
Expressing concern over the prevailing condition in the Hills, the court has also observed the role of the political parties in bringing back normalcy in the Hills where schools closed, the supply of ration is getting restricted and common people are facing harassment.
It may be mentioned that in the first 31 days of the violence in the Hills, damage caused to property stood at Rs 355 crore and at the same time, 54 vehicles, 73 government offices and buildings were damaged and torched. Moreover, 113 government officers and policemen were injured. Several tea gardens are also closed due to the agitation. The state government has also stated in its affidavit before the court about the support extended by the Maoists from a neighbouring country to the agitators in the Hills to continue the violence.
While reacting to the delay in enlisting more companies of CRPF, the Chief Minister had also claimed that the Centre was solely responsible for the violence taking place in Darjeeling as it does nothing apart from "politics of division". She had also mentioned earlier that the bandh in Darjeeling had been called in violation of the Court order. While hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the bandh in Darjeeling, the court had directed not to go for a strike in the Hills that would lead to harassment of common people.