Is BJP backing statehood militia in West Bengal?

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Published: August 23, 2016 3:36:12 PM

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reportedly backing a local militia which demands a separate statehood for Cooch Behar in West Bengal.

Cops in action to vacate the railway tracks from the activists of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) during their agitation demanding a separate state, in Cooch Behar district in February this year. (Source: PTI file photo)Cops in action to vacate the railway tracks from the activists of the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association (GCPA) during their agitation demanding a separate state, in Cooch Behar district in February this year. (Source: PTI file photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is reportedly backing a local militia which demands a separate statehood for Cooch Behar in West Bengal. CNN News 18 reported that BJP MP from Darjeeling, SS Ahluwalia, has written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the militia called ‘Narayani Sena” which is demanding the creation of Greater Cooch Behar, separate from West Bengal.

The news channel also quoted Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, a Congress MP from Baharampur in West Bengal and a member of the Standing Committee on Home Affairs, saying he would take up the issue and there should be a “serious” probe into the allegations.

Apart from Darjeeling, Cooch Behar is the second area where demand for a separate statehood is being raised, though the demand is not very old.

In February last year, locals under the leadership of Bangshi Badan Barman of the Greate Cooch People’s Association (GCPA) had launched a massive ‘rail roko’, demanding Greater Cooch Bihar, according to Indian Express. GCPA’s separate demand, however, is only about two decades old.

Barman was previously jailed in September 2005 after a flare up for the statehood in which five people had died. The dead included three cops including an additional superintendent of police. Barman was, however, later declassified as a political prisoner my Mamata Banerjee government and freed in 2015.

Cooch Behar is the easternmost district of West Bengal, located at about 300 km from Assam capital Guwahati, and over 600 km from Kolkata. The statehood agitation is being pushed by Koch Rajbanshi people, who are recognised as scheduled caste in West Bengal and scheduled tribe in Assam.

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