Gorkhatimes

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Police want Central forces in Darjeeling

Posted by Ramesh Khati on July 18, 2009

A view of the deserted Rangpo Bridge, which connects Sikkim with West Bengal, on the fifth day of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling hills on Friday.

A view of the deserted Rangpo Bridge, which connects Sikkim with West Bengal, on the fifth day of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling hills on Friday.

KOLKATA: The police administration in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district, where the bandh called by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in the hills entered the fifth day on Friday, has sought the deployment of Central paramilitary forces and additional companies of the State police.

“We have sought deployment of six companies of paramilitary forces as well as additional battalions of the State’s Rapid Action Force” Rahul Srivastava, Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling, told The Hindu over the phone.

The local police authorities have drawn up a contingency plan in the event of the law and order situation in the hills deteriorating and necessitating the use of force. Most of the thanas in the region are under-staffed.

The police had chosen to maintain a “non-confrontationist” attitude till the plan that had been sent to the State government was put into effect, Mr Srivastava said. But of growing concern to the local administration were moves by the GJM to set up what a section of the local authorities perceived was “a form of parallel administration” in the hills.

Even as normal life continued to be crippled in the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, bands of young volunteers of an ostensibly “peacekeeping” outfit of the GJM called “Gorkhaland Personnel” were reportedly moving around in certain areas to enforce the bandh. The outfit was viewed as one of the faces of the emerging “parallel administration.”

Members of the “Gorkhaland Personnel” who were being trained by ex-servicemen in camps across the hills were largely drawn from among the local youth. The outfit was raised last year, according to the local police.

“Whether they are provided arms is not important. What is important is the sentiment that draws them into becoming volunteers and the hierarchical structure within which they function,” a senior police official said.

According to intelligence reports reaching the administration, the strength of the outfit is between 300 and 500. The GJM, though, claims that the figure is a lot higher. Seven training camps have been set up across the hills for volunteers of the outfit.

The GJM leadership reiterated during the day that the bandh it called in support of the demand for a separate State would continue indefinitely.

The GJM’s central committee demanded that the tripartite talks proposed by the Centre for August 24 be held within this month and at a political level with the single-point agenda of Gorkhaland.

Source: The Hindu

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