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9 Jun 2017

Two columns of army deployed in hills - First call to force in Mamata regimeAn army vehicle patrols the streets of Darjeeling on Thursday evening

An army vehicle patrols the streets of Darjeeling on Thursday evening
TT, Calcutta, June 8: The Bengal government today sought the assistance of the army after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters pelted the police with stones and burnt several vehicles in Darjeeling.
Sources in the Eastern Command said two columns of the army - each led by an officer and comprising 40 soldiers and junior commanding officers - were pressed into service this evening after the government made an official appeal.
This is the first time that armed forces have been called in to tackle a law and order situation since Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister in March 2011. The Left Front government had last sought the help of the army in 2010, when violence erupted at Deganga in North 24-Parganas.
Sources said the decision to appeal to the army was taken at a meeting Mamata held with chief secretary Basudeb Banerjee and senior police officers at Darjeeling Raj Bhavan as Morcha supporters clashed with the police outside.
After the formal appeal, senior army officers held a meeting at the Eastern Command in Calcutta.
"It was decided that two columns would be asked to move in from the nearby Jalapahar army cantonment. Senior officers in the cantonment were informed about the decision," said an army officer.
"The immediate concern would be restoring law and order."
Sources said that in keeping with the Standard Operating Procedure, it had been decided that the army would take the police and the civil administration into confidence while dealing with the situation tomorrow.
A meeting of senior police officers is scheduled tomorrow morning in the presence of Darjeeling police superintendent Amit Javalgi, who was injured in the violence today.
Late this evening, senior officers in the Bengal police held a round of talks on how the army would be deployed after consulting the chief minister, sources said.
"Based on specific inputs, the army columns would carry out raids and ensure there is no use of any excess unless the situation turns violent," said an army officer.

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