The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it was willing to provide additional paramilitary forces to West Bengal to prevent the frequent blockade of the national highway 31A, the economic lifeline of Sikkim, by pro and anti Gorkhaland agitators.
Appearing for the Centre, counsel Wasim Ahmed Quadri, however, told the apex court that since law and order was a state subject, it was for West Bengal government to persuade the agitating leaders from laying seige to the highway.
"We have already provided three companies of the CRPF and are willing to provide additional forces, if required. But since law and order is a state subject, the problem can be taken up adequately only by the state of West Bengal by persuauding the heads of the agitating groups," Quadri said.
A three-judge bench of Justices Altamas Kabir, Mukundakam Sharma and AK Patnaik, later adjourned the matter for further hearing to July 19.
The apex court had earlier issued contempt notices to three top pro and anti-Gorkhaland agitators for frequent blockade of the national highway.
It had also sought a response of the union government, the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary of West Bengal on the petition of O P Bhandari, a social activist, to know what steps are being taken to prevent recurrence of such blockades.
The contempt notices were issued to Bimal Gurung, President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, its Assistant Secretary Bimoy Tamang, besides Mukunda Mazumdar, chief of anti-Gorkhaland organisation "Bangla O Bangla Bhasha Bachao Samiti.