Doesn't Centre think unrest in hills needs to be quelled quickly, questions Calcutta HC

7 Jul 2017

The Calcutta High Court today sought to know if the Centre did not think the Darjeeling hills stir for a separate Gorkhaland needed to be quelled quickly, given the strategic location of the area.

"Given the geopolitical area in which it lies, doesn't the Centre think this agitation be quelled immediately," asked acting Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre while hearing a plea for restoration of normalcy in the Darjeeling hills. The court posed the query amid the Indian Armed forces being locked in a eyeball to eyeball standoff with the Chinese army at Dokalam at the Bhutan tri-junction, not too far from Darjeeling. The division bench of acting Chief Justice Mhatre and Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty directed the West Bengal government officials to sit with the Ministry of Home Affairs to sort out the requirements for para-military forces on the basis of ground conditions.

Expressing displeasure at the state and the Centre sparring over requirement of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) in the restive Darjeeling hills, the bench observed: "The situation can improve only if both of you sit together and sort out the issues." The court asked the Centre and the state government to reach a meaningful understanding over CAPF requirement before July 11, when the matter would be heard next. Normal life has been affected severely in Darjeeling and Kalimpong due to the ongoing indefinite shutdown enforced by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and some other hill parties since June 15 over a separate statehood demand. Incidents of arson have been going on in different parts of the hills since June 8.

Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Kaushik Chanda told the court that 11 companies of CAPF have been provided for Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts in the hills.