Kolkata, December 2: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that Army deployment has been done in State without consent of the State police and she will not leave her office until and unless the Army personnel are withdrawn. On Friday, Army was deployed in West Bengal at special points as a routine bi-annual exercise with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers.
West Bengal CM who is on a journey to fight against demonetization move against Central Govt called the Army exercise as a military coup. “My officials checked with Odisha, Bihar, Kerala, Chhattisgarh no where such a thing happened. This happened only in Bengal. In almost all areas of West Bengal army has been deployed without consent of the State Govt” she said.
In reply, Defence PRO informed that it was a routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination of the West Bengal police and said that the requisite data is gathered and Army has been asked to withdraw from specific point and would be deployed elsewhere tomorrow. “Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect” pointed Eastern command.
On the other hand, State chief secretary, Home Secretary, DG and CP all contradicted army claim, saying that there was no communication from army at any level. Army has been retreated from toll plaza near the state secretariat but CM Banerjee still refused to leave office till Army retreats across West Bengal.
Addressing a press conference, Banerjee said, “I am saying this on record. Hope my words won’t be distorted. Army was today deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 in West Bengal without informing state government. It is unprecedented and serious matter.”
“It is an attack on the federal structure. We want to know the details. The Chief Secretary is writing to the Centre. Given an opportunity I will talk to the President on the issue. Has Emergency been imposed in the country without declaration?” she pointed.
She further said, “Army is our asset. We are proud of them. We requisition Army in times of major disaster or communal flare up. I don’t know what has actually happened. Even if there is mock-trial, state government is informed”, she said.
Defence spokesperson said that the army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency. “There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.
However, TMC leaders joined the flow of Chief Mamata Banerjee called the exercise as inappropriate. “Without intimating state Govt, way they are operating whole system is unbelievable as if some emergency is going to be proclaimed in WB. It is a grave situation when a CM is being continuously harassed and her life is in danger: said TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay.
The ruling Pay of West Bengal also said that it will take up the issue in the parliament. Want a clarification by Defence Minister on army deployment in Bengal, we will be very vocal about this in both the houses, Bandyopadhyay said.
Another senior TMC leader said that the police do not knew about the exercise. “Eastern command said this is being coordinated, police knows...this is untrue. Till midnight I got reports that in over a dozen districts army personnel were being deployed. Are they authorised to collect funds from toll plazas? said Derek O’Brien.
“CM has been in secretariat overnight. Till midnight I got reports that in over a dozen districts army personnel were being deployed. We have full respect for the army, but we are told that the data they are looking for is already available,” Brien added.