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21 Jun 2017

More forces from Calcutta

KINSUK BASU, TT,  Darjeeling, June 20: The Bengal government has decided to increase the number of police personnel and commandos in and around the hills, setting the stage for a tighter clampdown on any possible acts of violence.
Sources said 98 police personnel were being sent to the hills from Calcutta. Seven teams comprising 14 members each - armed with SLRs, revolvers and rubber bullets - would be manning several parts of Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling, they added.
The sources said most of these teams would be deployed around state government offices and installations, including libraries, panchayat offices and municipal bodies, to thwart any attempt by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to set them on fire.
The leaders of these teams - mostly officers in the rank of inspector - would coordinate with their counterparts in local police stations on two aspects.
First, they would gather actionable intelligence on Morcha supporters who are active in the region and second, identify their possible targets across the hills.
"We have found that the difficult terrain posed obstacles for several policemen in places where there was violence or where government buildings and vehicles were set on fire. These teams have been formed to ensure that they work in a self-sufficient manner to neutralise such attempts," a senior police official said.
The teams will not only keep vigil in areas perceived to be Morcha strongholds, they will also pass on information they have gathered to senior IPS officers like S.N. Gupta, Ranvir Kumar, Jawed Shamim and Ajay Nand, who have been camping in the hills since the June 8 violence.
A 60-member team of Bengal police, who have undergone commando training and had been posted in Maoist-infested areas, has been sent to Jalpaiguri.
The team has set up a camp in Sibchu, close to the one of the Sashastra Seema Bal.
"All those who are members of the team have undergone commando training and worked in Jungle Mahal. They are young and are equipped to prevent breach of law and order both in the plains and the hills. They can adapt to conditions in forests too. The team is being headed by an assistant commandant. They have started keeping vigil in the area and are working in three shifts," a police officer said in Jalpaiguri.
Apart from the hills, the Morcha has also taken out rallies in areas such as Sibchu, which are near to Kalimpong. Suspected Morcha supporters have burnt down police vehicles, hurled stones at police camps and torched panchayat offices.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY OUR JALPAIGURI CORRESPONDENT

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