KOLKATA: Overturning the central government orders, the Calcutta High Court Tuesday stayed the withdrawal of central forces from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal until October 27, the
next date of hearing in a case filed by the state government.
A division bench comprising justice Harish Tandon and justice Debanshu Basak asked for reasons behind the withdrawal to which the Centre's legal representative Vipul Kundalia said the forces would be used in states where assembly elections are approaching. To this, West Bengal's representative advocate general Kishore Dutta said that at present only Himachal Pradesh will be going to polls. The division bench said the Centre has to provide strong grounds to justify the withdrawal of troops from Darjeeling.
The decision comes after West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh Monday decrying the Centre's decision to withdraw seven of the total 15 companies of central forces from the troubled region.
The state government termed the move as a ploy to 'divide and destabilise' West Bengal and said the Centre has to take all responsibility of deterioration of law and order after the removal of the central forces, citing the death of SI Amitava Malik in an encounter with Bimal Gurung's loyalists.
On the other hand, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh, whom Mamata Banerjee has accused of recommending the withdrawal, said Darjeeling locals told him during his visit that the central forces
are being used to intimidate and beat up the locals.
"Centre can deploy the central forces anywhere it thinks they are most needed. The central forces cannot be used for 'anti-people' activities or for tormenting the people," he said. Several CRPF jawans were also severely beaten up by youth during the height of the 104-day-long agitation in Teesta Valley area of Darjeeling Hills.
Sources revealed that Mamata Banerjee fears that Bimal Gurung might again try to sneak into Darjeeling in the wake of the withdrawal of half of the central forces. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supremo had
promised to meet his supporters at a public rally in Darjeeling on October 30, when he had asked the Gorkhas to take the streets in 'lakhs'.