SC allows withdrawal of four remaining CRPF companies from Bengal hills

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New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Centre to withdraw next month four CRPF companies deployed in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of West Bengal that witnessed an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state.

The four remaining companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) will be withdrawn on March 8, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal averred that they were needed for deployment in poll-bound Meghalaya.

While senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, appearing for West Bengal, urged the court to let the central forces remain in place for another four weeks as Gorkhaland leaders were still elusive and evading law, the Attorney General said the Election Commission had sought deployment of 100 companies of paramilitary forces in Meghalaya Assembly elections, which are scheduled for February 27.

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Allowing the withdrawal of four companies, the court disposed of the West Bengal plea before the Calcutta High Court that challenged the Centre’s decision to withdraw all the central paramilitary forces from the state in 2017.

The top court had on November 27 permitted the Centre to withdraw up to four companies of the central security forces from Darjeeling and Kalimpong as the Centre cited normalcy in the situation.

On October 27, the Centre was allowed to withdraw seven companies for deployment in then poll-bound Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat.

The Centre had moved the top court to challenge a Calcutta High court interim order that set aside the Union government’s order for withdrawing the security forces from the trouble-torn districts facing Gorkha agitation.

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