Four additional companies of CRPF are being sent to maintain aw and order in Darjeeling and Kalimpong which have been hit by the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland, the Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court.
The government told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra that 11 CRPF companies are already deployed in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts and a decision has been taken to send four more companies to ensure the safety of citizens and maintain law and order there.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench, which also comprised A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar, that the Calcutta High Court has on Friday asked the government to deploy four additional companies of CRPF there and they are sending additional paramilitary forces there.
The bench made it clear that the 11 companies which are already deployed there and the four additional companies shall be utilised by the West Bengal government only for the purpose of maintaining law and order in the two districts.
The bench also asked the authorities to ensure smooth movement of traffic and safety and security of passengers travelling in vehicles on the National Highway-10, the sole road link connecting West Bengal’s Siliguri with Sikkim.
“Needless to say, the citizens of these areas must understand that sustenance of law and order and living in peace is the hallmark of progressive civilisation and therefore, they shall also see that free flow of life is not in anyway disturbed or affected,” the bench said.
In a separate develpment, the Calcutta High Court on Friday 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.
Arson in the hills
Earlier in the day, a Railway Protection Force office, a police outpost and a state-run library were set on fire in the Darjeeling hills as the indefinite strike demanding a separate State entered its 30th day on July 14, 2017, police said. Internet services remained suspended for the 27th day on July 14, 2017.
The RPF office in Kurseong and a police outpost in Sukhiapokhri were set afire in the early hours of the morning while the state-run library in Mirik sub-division was reduced to ashes by pro-Gorkhaland supporters on Thursday night, a police official said.
The Army continues to be deployed in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Sonada.
The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) decided to postpone its fast-unto-death programme from July 15, 2017 due to the upcoming presidential elections.