Centre to cut troops in hills

The Centre has informed the Bengal government that 10 companies of central paramilitary forces deployed in Darjeeling would be withdrawn from Monday.

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 16.10.17
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Calcutta: The Centre has informed the Bengal government that 10 companies of central paramilitary forces deployed in Darjeeling would be withdrawn from Monday.

The Bimal Gurung camp thanked the Centre for the withdrawal, strengthening suspicion among Bengal government officials that New Delhi took the decision to please the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader.

The decision has upset the Bengal government, particularly since it came close on the heels of an encounter in the hills in which sub-inspector Amitabha Malik was killed.

"We have received a letter this morning. The withdrawal will deal a blow to the process of bringing normality to the hills. We have already taken up the issue with Delhi," said a state government official.

Sources said that the letter did not mention any specific reason. But when state officials contacted the home ministry in Delhi, they were told that as the Morcha had withdrawn the bandh, there was no need for 15 companies in the hills.

State officials said the government had recently informed the Centre that a section of the Morcha was desperate to create trouble in the hills with the help of insurgent groups from the Northeast.

"The details of the search operation in which Malik died were sent to the Centre yesterday and it was mentioned that central forces were required for both search operation and area domination," said an official.

In a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, the Gurung faction of the Morcha said: "Your decision to immediately withdraw central forces means that the central government also does not believe the conspiracy theory of the West Bengal government seeking to depict Bimal Gurung as a terrorist and an anti-national."

The letter was signed by Morcha central committee member Lopsang Lama.