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Withdrawal of Troops Centre's Ploy to Maintain Unrest in Darjeeling, Says Mamata Banerjee

Calling it a bad decision both politically and administratively, Mamata said she has sent “strongly worded” letters to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh protesting the decision.

Sougata Mukhopadhyay | CNN-News18

Updated:October 16, 2017, 8:42 PM IST
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Withdrawal of Troops Centre's Ploy to Maintain Unrest in Darjeeling, Says Mamata Banerjee
Mamata Banerjee said the Centre did not even consult her before taking this vital decision. ( Photo: Reuters)
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Kolkata: Miffed with the Centre’s decision to withdraw seven companies of paramilitary forces from the hills of Darjeeling, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday called the move a “deliberate ploy to maintain unrest in the hills”.

“I am shocked and disappointed at the Centre’s unilateral decision to withdraw forces from the hills at a time when the state government is making all efforts to restore peace in the hills. They never even bothered to consult the state before taking this vital decision,” Banerjee said at a press briefing, Nabanna, after holding the third round of peace talks with the hill parties.

Rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader, Benoy Tamang, too echoed Banerjee’s contention. “Peace is yet to be fully restored in the hills. It would have been right if the Centre had retained its forces till law and order in the hills normalised fully,” he said.

In a fax communication to the state dated October 15, the union home ministry had informed the Bengal government that it intended to withdraw 10 out of the existing 15 companies of paramilitary troops form Darjeeling. Later upon meeting stiff resistance from the state, the central government settled on withdrawing seven companies, for now.

Calling it a bad decision both politically and administratively, Mamata said she has sent “strongly worded” letters to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh protesting this move. “I hope they would intervene and stop this from happening,” she said.

She asserted that the withdrawal decision went against the direction of the Calcutta High Court, which ordered the government to deploy additional paramilitary forces in the hills until normalcy was restored.

The decision to withdraw forces came barely a couple of days after a sub-inspector of the state police was killed in a gun battle between security forces and followers of the fugitive Gorkha leader Bimal Gurung - a fact that seems to have irked the chief minister even more.

Banerjee used the opportunity to train her guns on the BJP: “Who took this decision? The Centre or the BJP? The militant faction of the GJM has welcomed this move already. The understanding and the game plan between the two sides is clear. It’s a conspiracy to destabilize the hills,” the CM said.

Banerjee even suggested that Darjeeling MP and junior union minister SS Ahluwalia was involved in the Centre’s decision to withdraw forces. “We have evidence that north east insurgency groups and elements from neighbouring countries are active in the hills. This is a compromise with the unity and integrity of the nation for the sake of retaining one Parliamentary seat. It’s a very wrong message from the Centre,” she said, without naming the BJP leader.

The Trinamool supremo claimed this was because she was politically opposed to the BJP. “Because we are fighting the BJP, are we being discriminated against? Is it not the duty of the Centre to take care of the states as well?” she asked while referring to large number of paramilitary troops deployed in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, North-East, Delhi, Odhisha and Bihar. “The Centre is creating a dangerous precedence,” she added.

“I am compelled to say that the Union government is working out of the BJP party office,” concluded an exasperated sounding Banerjee.
| Edited by: Aakarshuk Sarna
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