SC Allows Centre to Withdraw Forces From Darjeeling and Kalimpong

“The decision to withdraw forces from Darjeeling was taken by the BJP,” the West Bengal Chief Minister said.

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The Supreme Court on Friday, allowed the Centre to withdraw 7 of the 15 CRPF companies from Darjeeling and Kalimpong. This comes even as Kalimpong has been on shutdown for 2 days after Barun Bhujel's death.

A municipal councillor from Kalimpong, Bhujel, passed away at the SSKM Hospital in Kolkata on Wednesday, 25 October. He was arrested in June for allegedly setting a hilltop lodge on fire.

Bhujel’s death brought about a stir in the region as there have been a series of protests in Kalimpong since 25 October as news of Bhujel’s death spread. Further, his family claimed that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader’s death was a “clear case of custodial death due to torture.”

Forces were deployed in the region following sub inspector Amitava Mullick’s death in the clash among the police and GJM supporters.

The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday, 17 October, had stayed the withdrawal of central armed forces from Darjeeling and Kalimpong till 27 October.

This came after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday, 16 October, slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Central government for its order to withdraw forces from Darjeeling, which has been in a state of lockdown since June this year.


“Does the Centre not want peace in Darjeeling? There's no contact with the federal structure. It's a political game plan, a conspiracy by the BJP to divide Bengal,” the Chief Minister said after completing the third all-party meet between the state government and hill parties at the Secretariat in Kolkata.

The Centre on Sunday, 15 October, had decided to withdraw 10 companies of its paramilitary forces from Darjeeling within 24 hours.

The Centre’s decision came just days after Amitava Mullick, a young Assistant Sub-Inspector with the West Bengal police, lost his life after he was hit by a bullet in clashes between the police and supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on 12 October.

“Instead of offering sympathies, they are withdrawing forces,” said Banerjee.


Banerjee said she had written to the the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister to not withdraw forces and that this was a blatant disregard for the federal structure. She also pointed out that the Centre’s decision comes after a state BJP leader visited the hills and submitted his report to the BJP central command.

What happened after a BJP leader visited Darjeeling? The withdrawal was done based on the BJP’s report. Who took this decision? Central government or BJP? If its the BJP, then we don’t accept this decision. BJP has been trying to cause trouble in Darjeeling.  
Mamata Banerjee, after the all-party meet.

“Neither the state government nor the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was taken into confidence”, said Banerjee.

Representing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, ousted leader Binay Tamang, who is also a member of the GTA, said that a number of issues were discussed with the state administration, including possibilities of a tripartite talk with the Central government and also a CBI and NIA probe into the instances of violence in the state.

“We have written to Rajnath Singh asking for tripartite talks, but have not received any response yet,” said Tamang.

Banerjee, however, said that she has not taken up the issue of tripartite talks with the Central government.


The third hill meeting was attended by ousted GJM leaders Binay Tamang and Anil Thapa, leaders of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), and MLAs from Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong. The Jan Andolan Party (JAP), which attended the last two meetings, was conspicuous by its absence.

The the Director-General of West Bengal police was stationed in Darjeeling during the duration of the meeting. The next round of talks would be held on the 21 November in Darjeeling.


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