Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday described the decision to withdraw seven companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) from the Darjeeling hills as “unfortunate” and a “violation of the federal structure”, and alleged that the Centre is being run from the BJP party office.
On Monday, The Indian Express had reported that Mamata had called Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday when the Centre decided to pull out the companies. Mamata also wrote letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh Monday, asking them not to withdraw the companies from the Hills, and accusing the Centre of taking a “politically and administratively” bad decision with an intention to “destabilise and divide Bengal”.
Speaking after an all-party meeting at state secretariat Nabanna, Mamata said: “At a time when peace and normalcy has returned to the Hills, the central government took a decision to withdraw seven CAPF companies. The central government took this decision without consulting the state government… We are really shocked. It is unfortunate to take such a unilateral decision. I personally had a conversation with Rajnath ji and asked him not to withdraw any company of central forces.”
The central government had on Sunday taken a decision to withdraw 10 of the 15 CAPF companies deployed in the Hills. After a call from Mamata to Rajnath, the Centre decided to pull out seven companies. “The Centre took the decision after a BJP leader was assaulted in Darjeeling. Based on the report filed by the BJP, the decision was taken. 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 in a shootout, and arms and ammunition were recovered from Darjeeling hills? Who took this decision. central government or BJP?” she said.
Earlier, 11 companies of central forces were present in Darjeeling. Later, the state government sought more personnel, and got four more companies following a court order. The chief minister also accused the Centre of not wanting peace to prevail in the Hills. “Soon after the Centre took the decision to withdraw the forces, former GTA leader (GJM chief Bimal Gurung) sent the Union Home Minister a letter congratulating him. Everything is clear now. Their understanding and game plan to disturb Darjeeling have come to the open… This decision violates the federal structure, and I believe the Centre took this decision from the party office of BJP… It only wants to win a seat in Darjeeling by creating unrest there,” she said.
Mamata further said: “It is a conspiracy by the BJP to divide the state and destabilise it. But we will not bow our head… This has also violated the court’s order… We cannot agree that the security and integrity of our nation or the Hills should be compromised.” The chief minister also gave details of CAPFs deployments in other states, and said the Centre deployed less personnel in Bengal because the state is fighting against BJP.
“In Jammu and Kashmir, 402 CAPF have been deployed except Indian Army. In Chhattisgarh, 252 companies are deployed because they have a BJP government there. In Jharkhand, 144 companies are there. In Northeast, 120 companies except Indian Army have been deployed. Although it is a small state, 40 companies are there in Delhi. In Odisha, 84 companies are there, even Bihar has 48 companies. But in West Bengal, only 15 companies are there.
With the withdrawal of seven companies, we will have only eight… During the rule of the previous central government, 60 CAPF companies were deployed in the Hills. Why this discrimination? It is because Bengal is fighting the battle against BJP,” she said.
Reacting to the allegations, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh said: “Mamata has ignited the fire in Darjeeling without any valid reason. Her government used the central armed forces to torture people. The central force was not deployed there to indulge in such activities. Now the state government is trying to save face by putting all the blame on the Centre,” he said.