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Central forces in hills to be withdrawn

Darjeeling, July 23: The Centre has decided to withdraw 13 companies of central forces from north Bengal, nine of which were stationed in the Darjeeling hills during last year’s Gorkhaland agitation.

Five companies would be withdrawn tomorrow and the remaining eight would be withdrawn on July 31.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, whose chief Bimal Gurung had written to home minister Rajnath Singh seeking the removal of central forces, today expressed happiness at the development.

But Trinamul MPs in both Houses of Parliament protested the move, hinting that Mamata Banerjee’s government was not informed of the matter.

Derek O’ Brien, the Trinamul chief whip in Rajya Sabha, raised the issue during Zero Hour. Trinamul leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay also spoke on the matter in Lok Sabha. Excerpts of the speeches have been uploaded on Trinamul’s website www.aitmc.org.

O’ Brien said: “The State Government wrote to the Central Government when the Ministry of Home Affairs wanted to remove those thirteen Companies on the 14th July.”

Bandyopadhyay said he came to know of the decision “one hour back”.

Addressing Rajnath Singh, he said: “I have been asked by the chief minister to communicate to you that you take an immediate decision and assure us that these companies of CRPF can only be withdrawn in consultation with the chief minister or the State Government. Otherwise a very chaotic situation will emerge in …West Bengal.”