The Centre Friday told the Supreme Court that it was sending four more companies of CRPF to West Bengal to maintain peace in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts where an agitation for a separate Gorkhaland is under way.
Eleven companies have already been deployed and four more will be sent soon, Attorney General K K Venugopal told a bench of Justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shantanagoudar which was hearing a petition by Sikkim Chief Secretary A K Srivastav, Lok Sabha MP P D Rai and Rajya Sabha member Hissey Lachungpa. Venugopal also brought to the court’s attention an order of Calcutta High Court earlier in the day, directing the Centre to send four additional companies of CRPF to the disturbed areas.
The apex court bench told the West Bengal government that it shall use the forces only to ensure peace in the two districts. The petition sought a direction to the Centre and state government to ensure safety of vehicles on NH-10, saying that about 20 trucks ferrying supplies to Sikkim were vandalised and their drivers attacked by pro-Gorkhaland activists.
The situation along the highway has been “worsening” and despite assurances by Bengal government, incidents of violence and loot have become regular, the petition said while quoting officials.The bench asked authorities to ensure smooth movement of traffic on NH 10 and safety of passengers. “…the citizens of these areas must understand that sustenance of law and order and living in peace is the hallmark of progressive civilisation and therefore, they shall also see that free flow of life is not in anyway disturbed or affected,” the bench said.