Court blasts states ‘helpless’ in bandh

New Delhi, July 3: The Supreme Court today slammed state governments for their habit of pleading “helplessness” when supporters of “illegal” bandhs harass people through “muscle power”.
The court’s observations came as it asked the Bengal government to ensure that the sole highway to Sikkim was open to traffic when the indefinite Darjeeling hills bandh resumed from Saturday.
“Every day some part of the country or the other is blocked. Roads, railroads are blocked… and you are not doing anything as it is the election year. No one can be allowed to hold the country to ransom,” a two-judge bench said.
“You (the Bengal government) are waiting for a court order to do something that you should do by yourself… then you say there is interference and judicial overreach.”
Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice G.S. Singhvi referred to the recent bandh in Hyderabad during which seven patients died because they could not reach hospital in time.
“Movement of medicine, fuel and everything gets affected and the state expresses its helplessness. This cannot be allowed,” the court said.
The court was hearing a petition by Sikkim resident .P. Bhandari that mentioned the blockade of the state during the recent bandh in the Darjeeling hills.
When Bengal counsel Tara Chand Sharma said there was no strike at present and the state should be given time to reply, the court said: “What about July 5? What is going to happen then? You should stop thinking and do something.”
It added: “You are the state of West Bengal. You are required to maintain law and order… keep the national highway (No. 31) free for traffic.”
The bench directed the Centre to provide whatever help the Sikkim and Bengal governments sought in the matter.
Morcha attack
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders accused the Bengal government of using the Sikkim issue to create a rift between the Himalayan state and the Darjeeling hills. “We’ll ourselves solve the issue with Sikkim; the Bengal government is trying to create trouble,” said Morcha central committee member Amar Lama. (The Telegraph)

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