Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered a stay on the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Darjeeling and other part of the Hills.
A bench of justices Harish Tandon and Debangsu Basak, hearing the West Bengal government’s plea, ordered the home ministry not to move a single company of paramilitary forces out of Darjeeling till the next hearing on October 27.
The Centre has been asked to file an affidavit before the High Court on October 23 and the state government will file a counter on October 26.
On Monday, the home ministry had passed an order for withdrawal of 1,000 paramilitary personnel, including 300 women, deployed in Darjeeling to maintain law and order.
Miffed with the decision, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had called it “Centre’s ploy to maintain unrest in the hills”. Darjeeling has been besieged by unrest since June this year.
“We all want peace and normalcy to be restored in Darjeeling. But the Centre unilaterally decided to withdraw central forces from Darjeeling, without even informing the State. We were not consulted. This is unfortunate and shocking,” she said.
“There were 11 companies in Darjeeling earlier; after the order of honourable Calcutta High Court, they sent 4 more. Out of these, 7 companies are being withdrawn. This is a violation of the court’s order. This decision is bad both politically as well as administratively. We must extend all cooperation to the people of the Hills. BJP is stoking tension in Darjeeling. Does the Centre not want normalcy to be restored in the Hills?” she asked.
Calling it a bad decision both politically and administratively, Mamata said she has sent “strongly worded” letters to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh protesting this move. “I hope they would intervene and stop this from happening,” she said.