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1 Jul 2017

More forces sought for hills

TT, Calcutta, June 30: The Bengal government has sought additional central forces for the hills and decided to send to Darjeeling a police officer with experience of handling the Gorkhaland movement in the 80s.
The move came in the wake of a police team being attacked in Teesta Valley by a mob seeking a Gorkhaland state and the burning of a GTA office a few hours before the finance department was to carry out an audit.
Raj Kanojia, the director-general (home guard) who would be sent to the hills to help tackle the unrest, was the additional superintendent of police in Darjeeling in 1987, when Subhas Ghisingh led the Gorkhaland movement.
"We will not allow any destructive activity in the hills. We will initiate stern measures against such activities and no one will be spared," said Surajit Kar Purkayastha, the director-general of police, at Nabanna today.
An official said: "Sending an officer of the rank of DG is significant as the state government already has three IPS officers stationed in the hills. It is a clear indication that the state is gearing up for stern measures against those trying to foment tension."
According to sources, the government has decided to seek 10 companies of CRPF personnel for the hills. Officials in the home ministry in Delhi said 12 companies - each company has around 100 personnel - of central forces were deployed in the hills currently.
"We need 10 companies of CRPF personnel to tackle the hill situation," Kar Purkayastha said.
The Mamata Banerjee government had earlier this week withdrawn the army from the Darjeeling hills.
Calcutta High Court today asked the Centre to consider "sympathetically" the state's request to send more central forces for the hills.
"In order to restore normality in the hills, more forces should be deployed there. We have repeatedly requested the Union government to provide more central forces. But the Centre is yet to send the required forces. Please issue an order asking the central government to meet our requirement," advocate-general Kishore Dutta told the court.
The division bench of acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakrabarty said in the order: "According to the submission made by advocate-general, more forces are required to restore normality to the hills. The central government should consider the state government's request sympathetically."
Around 10,000 residents of Siliguri and surrounding areas today took out a march to protest the movement for Gorkhaland and demand restoration of peace in the hills.

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