Army says no to Darjeeling, West Bengal withdraws request | india | Hindustan Times
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Army says no to Darjeeling, West Bengal withdraws request

The West Bengal government today withdrew its request to the defence ministry to deploy the army in the troubled Darjeeling hills, after the armed forces refused to get involved in a law and order issue.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2011 18:51 IST

The West Bengal government on Wednesday withdrew its request to the defence ministry to deploy the army in the troubled Darjeeling hills. The ministry was approached after the armed forces refused to get involved in a law and order issue.

"I have been informed that West Bengal has already withdrawn the request. The state police and paramilitary forces will now handle the situation (in Darjeeling)," said Defence Minister A K Antony at a press conference on the sidelines of the Aero India 2011 show in Bangalore.

He, however, did not say why the state government decided to withdraw its request.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh on Tuesday sought the army's help in containing the law and order situation in Darjeeling hills.

Life was disrupted in the Darjeeling hills on Wednesday in response to a call by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for an indefinite shutdown, to protest the killing of its supporters in police firing.

The party, which is spearheading the movement in the hills for a separate Gorkhaland state, has also announced plans to block train services.

Antony last month said that the armed forces should be called upon to help the civil administration only as a last resort and after exhausting all options available with state governments.

After West Bengal's request for help, the army said that it was not meant to control riots. Army officials said the decision on its involvement in a law and order situation should be taken by the political leadership.

The army in November last year prepared a note detailing the frequency with which it was being roped in to perform duties in aid of civil administration, including internal security and rescue and evacuation operations.

The note said these roles were secondary to its primary role of preparing and being ready to defeat external aggression. Such involvement in law and order duties came in the way of its training for its primary role, the army said.

The army also felt that it was being stretched too much by its continued deployment in the internal security role in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.

Army chief General V K Singh, at his annual press conference last month, said it was a matter of concern that state governments rushed for its help in internal security, law and order disturbances and special situations, including incidents in which children fall into bore wells.