The Calcutta High Court today directed the Centre to provide four additional companies of CRPF within 48 hours in Darjeeling to quell violence in the hills. A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty directed the Centre to provide the forces from the CRPF in addition to 11 companies of the Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) already deployed there. The court also directed the state government to provide additional forces from its own resources in order to bring back normalcy in the hills, where an indefinite bandh demanding separate statehood has been going on for the last one month.
The bench has repeatedly expressed concern over the sufferings of the people in the stir-hit Darjeeling hills amid the ongoing tussle over replacement of forces, sought by the state for ‘operational reasons.’ The Centre, in reply to the state’s request for replacement of three Mahila companies of CRPF, today said through an affidavit that the women members of the force could not be discriminated against. On the state’s request for replacing three companies of SSB from the restive Darjeeling hills claiming that they were familiar with the local people, the Centre submitted that it was not a cogent reason to replace the SSB companies as they worked without bias.
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Hearing both the Advocate General for the state and the Additional Solicitor General for the Centre, the division bench directed the deployment of four companies of CRPF in addition to the 11 companies already deployed in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in the hills. Out of the 11 companies of CAPF, there are three from SSB, three Mahila CRPF companies and the rest are CRPF companies comprising men.