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Supreme court allows centre to withdraw paramilitary force from Darjeeling

Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) deployed in Darjeeling
THE SUPREME Court on Friday allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) deployed in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal in the wake of the agitation by the Gorka Janmukti Morcha (GJM). A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud also said it would examine the power of the High Courts to compel the Executive on the question of deployment of armed forces.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh said, “24 High Courts cannot start dictating to the Centre on where to deploy armed forces.” On October 17, the Calcutta High Court had stayed the government move to withdraw 10 of the 15 CRPF companies stationed in the two districts, following which the government approached the apex court. The Centre said it wanted the troops for redeployment in election-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, internal security needs in Jammu and Kashmir and the Maoist-infested areas.

The Supreme Court stayed the High Court order and issued notice to the West Bengal government. The bench said it would deal with the case in a “holistic manner”. Acting on the request of the state government, the Centre had allotted three companies each of CRPF and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) to maintain law and order in the districts on June 11, 2017. This was increased from time to time, taking it to a total of 15 companies —12 of the CRPF and three of SSB.

After the GJM called off its agitation, the Home Ministry concluded that the situation could now be controlled by the state police and decided to pull out seven companies, but this was stayed by the High Court. Welcoming the order, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said, “Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that peace has returned to Darjeeling Hills. The state director general of police also said that there was no tension in the Hills. So, that means that central armed forces are not required in Darjeeling Hills. We welcome the Supreme Court ruling.”

Echoing the same, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said, “The number of companies of central forces needed in the Hills is already there. There was no need for additional forces, which were not being used. So, the Centre wanted to withdraw the additional forces and utilise them elsewhere. The Supreme Court has vindicated the Centre’s stand.”

Express News Service

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