West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called the Centre’s decision to withdraw seven companies of the Central Armed Police Forces from Darjeeling “politically motivated” and “undemocratic”. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Banerjee asked them not to withdraw the CAPFs from the Hills and accused the Centre of taking a “politically and administratively” bad decision with an intention to “destabilise and divide Bengal”.
The Home Ministry had on Sunday ordered the withdrawal of 10 of the 15 CAPF companies deployed in Darjeeling. However, after Banerjee objected to the decision, the Centre decided to pull out only seven CAPF companies.
Launching a fresh attack on Monday, Banerjee asserted the Centre violated the “federal structure” of the country and a “court order” by taking a “unilateral” decision. “At a time when peace and normalcy has returned to the hills, the Centre took a decision to withdraw seven companies of CAPFs. They took this decision without consulting with the state government. We are shocked. I personally had a conversation with Rajnath ji and asked him not to withdraw any company of the central forces.”
The decision to withdraw the CAPFs came two days after a sub-inspector was killed and several others were injured when supporters of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), led by Bimal Gurung, clashed with the police.
The Trinamool Congress chief alleged the Centre took the decision after news reports surfaced a BJP leader was assaulted in Darjeeling. “It is both politically and administratively a bad decision. The Centre took the decision based on a report filed by BJP. Northeastern insurgency groups and foreign players are involved in creating unrest in the hills. Why did the Centre take such a decision when a West Bengal police officer was killed and arms and ammunition were recovered from Darjeeling hills? Who took this decision…the Centre or the BJP? BJP is trying to create unrest in the hills and a BJP minister is directly involved in this,” she said.
Earlier, 11 companies of CAPFs were deployed in Darjeeling. Later, the state government sought more personnel following the unrest that began in June and got four more companies following a court order. “So, now we will have only eight CAPF companies. During the UPA, 60 companies of CAPF were deployed in the hills,” she said.
Smelling a conspiracy behind the Centre’s move, Banerjee said Gurung had sent Rajnath Singh a letter congratulating him for the taking the decision. “Their understanding and game plan to disturb Darjeeling have come out in the open. The Centre does not want peace to prevail in the hills. It seems the Centre is being run from the BJP party office,” Banerjee said.
The CM said she would not bow down her head to BJP’s plan to divide Bengal. “I have written a letter to PM Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh and said it is very unfortunate to take such a decision. The withdrawal of CAPF has also violated the court’s order and the move is contrary to common sense,” she said.