The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered a stay on the withdrawal of central security forces from Darjeeling, ANI reported. The court asked the Centre to file an affidavit on the matter by October 23, and told the West Bengal government to submit its reply on October 26.
The court will hear the case next on October 27. West Bengal had earlier moved the High Court asking for the stay on the withdrawal of the forces to maintain law and order in the region.
On Monday, the Centre had allowed 800 paramilitary forces to continue to be deployed. Earlier, it had decided to withdraw 10 out of the 15 paramilitary force companies, comprising 1,000 personnel, as it wanted to deploy them at other places during the festival season. However, as the West Bengal government sought to have the forces for longer, the Centre withdrew only seven companies.
The state police must take over as the situation had been brought under control, a Home Ministry official had told PTI. “Central forces cannot be converted into the local police,” the official was quoted as saying.
The turmoil in the Darjeeling Hills began in June, after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced her decision to make Bengali compulsory in state-run schools. While she had clarified that hill districts would be exempted from the rule, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha began an agitation that soon revived the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.