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Central forces to be withdrawn from Bengal

Indrani Dutta

But will remain in Jangalmahal: Chief Secretary

KOLKATA: Central forces will stay on in the Jangalmahal area of West Bengal but will be withdrawn from all other places in West Bengal, including the hilly areas of Darjeeling district, after their prolonged stay.

This was stated by Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh at the State Secretariat on Tuesday. He said the 141 companies of para-military forces will be withdrawn in phases by June 30.

The four companies of Central forces deployed in strife-torn Darjeeling will also be withdrawn, he added.

Asked about the proposed tripartite pact on the Darjeeling issue, he said this was being looked into by the Centre and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has already written to the Union Home Minister on this matter.

The Government has already worked out what it described as a tentative solution to the problem following discussion with GJM leaders and the matter now rests with the Centre.

On withdrawal of forces from West Bengal, Mr. Ghosh said that this follows an improvement in the State's law and order situation.

In an unprecedented development the force deployment had started months ahead of the Assembly polls which began on April 18. Although normally forces are brought on a week ahead of elections and leave after counting is completed, in this case they were retained on apprehensions of post-poll violence.

Political violence

Political violence in West Bengal since the Assembly elections has left 17 party members and supporters dead, the State Government said in the Legislative Assembly on Monday.

Of those killed, eight belonged to the CPI (M), six to the Trinamool Congress and three to the Congress, Industry and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee told the Assembly.

The figures were disputed by the Opposition leader Surjyakanta Mishra who said that he has already submitted a list of 17 workers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) who have been killed in post poll violence. Mr Mishra has also held a meeting with Ms Banerjee on post-poll attacks on party -members

Police told to be impartial

Mr Chatterjee said that the police have also been asked to work in an impartial and transparent manner to instil a sense of security among the people. Mr Ghosh said that it was being felt that the police would be able to tackle the State's law and order situation.

As for the 35 companies in Jangalmahal, it may be mentioned that to a question on this matter at her first press conference on May 20 Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that this matter would have to be studied. Since her takeover there has been no major incident in the strife-torn area even as her government has been busy trying to put in place measures to boost development in the three districts within Jangalmahal.

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