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28 Jun 2017

Net ban extended till 4 July ; separate police range for Darjeeling

TNN | Jun 28, 2017, KOLKATA: The Bengal government on Tuesday took several long- and short-term decisions, including the re-creation of a separate police range for Darjeeling and extending the internet ban in the Hills, as part of a multi-pronged strategy to take the wind out of the Gorkhaland agitation.
The government meeting, chaired by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, came on a day when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha agitators hit Darjeeling's streets with a novel "tubelight protest" (in which protesters had tubelights smashed on their bare backs) and burned copies of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration accord. The broad consensus at the Nabanna meeting was that it would be best to tire out the agitation as, sooner rather than later, there would be "internal pressure" on the GJM to withdraw the bandh, which was severely inconveniencing life in the Hills. Prices of essentials have already started to skyrocket.
Officials said the government decision to extend the internet ban was prompted by "very strong inputs" from the police, which was represented by state director-general of police Surajit Kar Purakayastha and inspector-general (Enforcement Branch) Jawed Shamim. The ban had crippled the fast dissemination of agitation plans by WhatsApp, which had become a major headache for cops, officials said, arguing for its extension. The meeting, which also included state chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee and state home secretary Malay De, decided to keep the ban in place till July 4.
"A mature statesman can control an agitation, which is not happening now," a senior official said. "June 8 (when bombs were hurled near a state cabinet meeting chaired by the CM) and June 17 (when three people died in clashes) have showed that this movement is heavily dependent on guerrilla tactics. So we have to take decisions accordingly," he added.
The order from the top, officials said, was that cops should not be "instigated or provoked" into any "direct confrontation" with mobs, which would only fan the agitation and help the GJM.
The government strategy, officials said, was based on reports that the bandh had already started severely inconveniencing Hills residents. "There is a broad consensus that pressure is building up on the GJM leadership to call off the bandh. We should not do anything to prolong the life of this agitation," an official said, adding: "We are also keeping the centre in the loop about everything. This is, ultimately, a sensitive area close to international borders."
All this has prompted the government to go in for the re-creation of the Darjeeling police range, the most important long-term decision taken on Tuesday. Darjeeling used to be a separate police range till 2015. the Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts were culled out of the Jalpaiguri police range on Tuesday, leaving the Jalpaiguri range with only Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar districts.
Officials said the creation of the new range would result in the posting of another senior IPS officer, of the rank of deputy inspector-general, in addition to the superintendent of police. "This will strengthen decision-making at the local level. Two senior heads are always better than one," a senior official explained.
Humayun Kabir will be the first DIG of this range. He was a joint commissioner of police in Kolkata. Officials said he was chosen for his proven merit in counter-intelligence operations, seen during the anti-Maoist operations. Siliguri will have a new police commissioner in Neeraj Kumar Singh. (Source & COurtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/net-ban-extended-separate-police-range-for-darjeeling/articleshow/59345034.cms)

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