SC allows Centre to redeploy four companies of central forces from Darjeeling to Gujarat for polls
The apex court allowed the Centre to withdraw four of the eight companies of central paramilitary forces stationed at Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal and redeploy them in Gujarat.
KOLKATA: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to withdraw four of the eight companies of central paramilitary forces stationed at Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal and redeploy them in Gujarat for the upcoming Assembly elections.
The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud allowed the Centre to reduce the strength of the central forces in the Darjeeling hills after improvement of the situation in the region following withdrawal of the 104-day-long Gorkhaland agitation. With the ruling, only four companies of central forces will be left to maintain peace in the hills.
The apex court had on October 27 allowed the Centre to withdraw seven companies of central forces from Darjeeling for redeployment in Himachal Pradesh elections by overruling a Calcutta High Court stay on the withdrawal of the forces.
The issue of withdrawal of central forces from Darjeeling has been particularly contentious between the Centre and West Bengal with chief minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the Centre was conspiring to divide West Bengal by reducing troops in trouble-torn Darjeeling. She had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with the Calcutta High Court in mid-October stating that reduction of central forces in Darjeeling would jeopardise the peace process.
Besides deploying two Army columns of Maratha Light Infantry, the Centre had stationed 10 companies of central forces in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts since the hills erupted on June 8. The strength of central paramilitary forces was bolstered to 15 companies after the two Army columns were withdrawn on June 29.