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8 Jul 2017

DARJEELING AGITATION .. No more forces for hills: Centre tells HC

TT, Calcutta, July 7: The Centre told the high court today that it couldn't send additional forces to the hills as demanded by Bengal, prompting a division bench to order senior officials of the central and state governments to talk and resolve the dispute. #
The order was issued during the hearing of two public interest litigations seeking an order to declare the ongoing bandh in the hills illegal.
Advocate general Kishore Dutta told the court that the Union government was yet to respond to the state's plea for additional paramilitary forces for deployment in Darjeeling and Kurseong.
Appearing for the Centre, additional solicitor general Kaushik Chanda said: "The Centre has already sent 11 companies of paramilitary forces to the hills. Recently, eight companies of central forces- have been deployed for maintaining peace at Basirhat and Baduria in North 24 Parganas. So, the Centre cannot send additional forces to the hills."
In reply, Dutta said: "Of the 11 companies sent to the hills, three are of women CRPF personnel and another three are of SSB (Sashastra Seema Bal). Instead of the SSB and women CRPF forces, the state wants six companies of male CRPF personnel."
Chanda said the state should meet the officials of the central government physically and place the demand.
In the order, the division bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty said: "Senior officials of the state home department should speak to the senior officials of the Union home ministry either physically or through video-conference and settle the dispute over the deployment of central forces required in the hills."
The division bench, in the same order, sought a report from the chief judge of the sessions court here, stating whether it had exempted Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and other accused from appearance in the Madan Tamang murder trial.
Gurung and 21 other Morcha leaders are named in the chargesheet filed by the CBI in the case.
Appearing for Bharati Tamang, widow of Madan, advocate Indranil Chatterjee claimed that the high court had directed all the accused to be present in Calcutta during the trial at the sessions court here.
"But they flouted the directive. I have been informed that they filed a petition in the sessions court seeking exemption from attending the trial and the same was allowed."

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