The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Centre to withdraw up to four more companies of paramilitary forces from the restive Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas of West Bengal, PTI reported. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra passed the order.
The forces were deployed in the region to maintain law and order after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha began fresh agitations for a separate state.
On October 27, the Supreme Court had told the Centre that it can withdraw seven of the 15 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force from the Darjeeling hills. The court had then ruled on a plea by the Centre against a Calcutta High Court order, which had stayed the withdrawal of central security forces from the region. The government had argued that the judiciary cannot dictate where central forces could be deployed.
In October, the Centre had decided to withdraw 10 of the 15 companies of paramilitary forces, comprising 1,000 troopers, from the region as it wanted to deploy them at other places during the festival season.
But the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government had moved the Calcutta High Court, asking for a stay on the order. The state government reasoned that the forces were required to maintain law and order in the Hills.
The Home Ministry had contended that the state police must take over as the situation was under control. “Central forces cannot be converted into the local police,” an official had said.