The West Bengal government today told the Calcutta High Court that it urgently needed additional Central Armed Police Force to tackle disturbances in Darjeeling. “We had made a requisition for 30 companies of CAPF, but have got only 11 companies from the Centre,” state Advocate General Kishore Dutta told a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and Justice T Chakraborty. “We urgently need at least 15 to 20 companies (an addition of four to nine companies to the present deployment) in Darjeeling and Kalimpong,” Dutta told the bench which is hearing petitions seeking restoration of normalcy in the Darjeeling hills. Observing that the issue has to be resolved, the bench directed the state government to make a fresh requisition to the Centre seeking additional forces. The court also directed additional solicitor general, representing the Union Government, to take instructions from the Centre on its position over deployment of more CAPF in Darjeeling, which has been witnessing large-scale violence since June eight over demands for a separate state, named ‘Gorkhaland.’ The ASG was asked to apprise the court of the Centre’s stand on July four, when the matter would be taken up for hearing again.
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The advocate general informed the court that at present there were 3,506 state police personnel deployed in the hills, while the CAPF deployment was of 704 personnel. The state’s top law officer also submitted that on the court’s direction, a copy of the petition and notice had been served on Gurung’s office and pasted on its walls. No lawyer, however, represented Gurung or his party Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which is spearheading the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of West Bengal, during today’s hearing. One of the petitioners submitted that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, his wife Asha and several others accused in the killing of All India Gorkha League leader Madan Tamang had been directed to stay in Kolkata from the date of framing of charge in the case and till completion of the trial.
Counsel Indranil Roy submitted that another division bench of the high court, while granting bail to these accused on December 19, 2016, had directed them to stay in Kolkata police area during the said period. Stating that the bench had directed that the trial court frame charges against the accused by February, 2017, Roy submitted that it should be found out whether charge framing had commenced and if so, Gurung and others had flouted directions of the high court by staying put in Darjeeling. Upon hearing the submission, acting Chief Justice Mhatre directed the state’s advocate general to find out the facts and inform the court. The trial in the case had been transferred from Darjeeling to Kolkata by the high court on a plea by Tamang’s widow that the accused persons could influence witnesses.