HC asks Centre to send four companies of para-military forces to

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A GTA office was set on fire and several vehicles were damaged in Darjeeling yesterday as the indefinite shutdown in the hills entered the 29th day.

A state-run library in Mirik sub-division too was set ablaze last night by Gorkhaland supporters.

The security forces maintained a close vigil at all police stations, camps and outposts besides the entry and exit routes to prevent attacks by pro-Gorkhaland agitators, the official sources said.

As unrest simmered, internet services remained suspended for the 27th day.

Calcutta High Court today ordered the Union Government to dispatch four companies of para-military forceswithin 48-hours to the Hills and warned both Centre and State Government to prepare for effect if they failed to restore normalcy in Darjeeling even as all economic and social activities came to a standstill with attacks and arson by suspected Gorkha activists on government establishments continuing unabated.

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The bench has repeatedly expressed concern over the sufferings of the people in the stir-hit Darjeeling hills amid the ongoing tussle over replacement of forces, sought by the state for 'operational reasons.' The Centre, in reply to the state's request for replacement of three Mahila companies of CRPF, today said through an affidavit that the women members of the force could not be discriminated against.

Venugopal informed the bench that the move was taken in pursuance of an order passed by the Kolkata High Court.

The Supreme Court order, from a bench of justices Dipak Misra, A M Khanwilkar and M M Shanatanagoudar, said the deployment of four more CRPF companies was required to maintain law and order and to remove a blockade from NH-10 connecting Sikkim to Bengal.

The court also asked the state government to provide additional forces from its own resources to bring back normalcy in the hills.

The Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) made a decision to postpone its fast-unto-death programme from July 15 due to the upcoming presidential elections.

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