Calcutta HC orders stay on withdrawal of troops

Calcutta HC orders stay on withdrawal of troops
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered an interim stay on the Centre’s plans to withdraw central paramilitary forces (CPFs) from trouble-torn Darjeeling till October 27.

The West Bengal government had moved the high court on Tuesday, seeking a stay on the central notification of withdrawing CPF companies.

On October 15, the Union home ministry had informed the West Bengal government that it intended to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of paramilitary forces from the hills.

The figure was later revised to seven after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee vehemently opposed the move and called up Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

When the bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Debanshu Basak asked for the reasons behind withdrawal of the troops from the state, the Centre’s legal team, headed by Vipul Kundalia, said the forces were needed for maintaining security in the states where Assembly elections will be held soon.

Advocate General Kishore Dutta, representing West Bengal, argued that at the moment only one Assembly election — in Himachal Pradesh — is due as per the Election Commission’s announcement.

The court then told the Centre that it should have a strong rationale and justify the grounds for withdrawal.

It also said that there must be good reasons for deployment and withdrawal of central forces and ordered an interim stay on the withdrawal till October 27.

The high court on July 14 had directed the Centre to provide four additional companies of CPFs within 48 hours in Darjeeling to quell the violence in the hills.

The troops were in addition to the 11 companies of CPFs already deployed in Darjeeling.

The court had also directed the state government to provide additional forces from its own resources in order to bring back normalcy in the hills, where an indefinite shutdown demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland is going on.

A fuming Mamata Banerjee, after the third round of talks between the Bengal government and hill parties, said on Monday, "We were shocked to learn about the sudden withdrawal of CPFs from Darjeeling. It came at a time when peace was gradually being restored in the area. This withdrawal is unfortunate and unilateral. It also defies all norms, practices and spirit of the federal structure. It is the BJP’s decision and the Centre’s conspiracy against the state and people of Darjeeling."

She had also shot strongly worded protest letters to the prime minister and the Union home minister to reconsider the withdrawal of CPFs from Darjeeling hills.
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