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Mamata Banerjee claims Army deployed outside state secretariat, refuses to leave office until troops withdrawn

Currently reading: Mamata Banerjee claims Army deployed outside state secretariat, refuses to leave office until troops withdrawn
India TV Politics Desk, Kolkata [Updated:02 Dec 2016, 6:44:24]

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today claimed that army troops have been stationed in front of the state secretariat in Kolkata’s high security zone, despite an objection raised by the police, and she will not leave the building until they are removed from the site. 

“Very unfortunate. Army stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal State Secretariat in a high security zone, inspite of Police objection. I am waiting here at the Secretariat and watching, to guard our democracy,” she said in a series of tweets. 

“Until and unless the Army stationed in front of Nabanno, the Bengal state govt secretariat, is withdrawn, I will be staying at my Secretariat to guard our democracy,” Mamata said. 

Indian Army's Eastern Command tweeted, "Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect ."

Mamata countered Army and said, "Absolutely wrong and misleading facts by  We have great respect for you, but please please don't mislead the people." 

She claimed that army has been deployed to several districts of West Bengal. "More army deployment in diff Bengal districts Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Darjeeling, Barrackpur, N24Pgs, Howrah, Hooghly, Kol, Murshidabad, Burdwan," she tweeted. 

This came hours after she had claimed that Army had been deployed at two toll plazas in the state while keeping her government in the dark, prompting the Defence Ministry to issue a clarification. 

The Defence Ministry said the movement of troops was an annual exercise conducted throughout the country for getting a data about the load carriers that can be made available to the army in contingency situations.

Soon after Banerjee alleged that the army had been deployed at two toll plazas - Palsit and Dankuni on National Highway 2 (that links Delhi and Kolkata), a Defence Ministry spokesman said there was "nothing alarming about this" and the exercise is carried out as per government orders.

Describing the deployment as "unprecedented and a serious matter," Banerjee said, “Army has been deployed at two toll plazas without informing the state government. This is a very serious situation worse than Emergency." 

"It is an attack on the federal structure. We want to know the details. The Chief Secretary is writing to the Centre,” she told reporters at the state secretariat. 

“Given an opportunity I will talk to the President on the issue. Has Emergency been imposed in the country without declaration?" she wanted to know. 

The Chief Minister 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. 

Banerjee claimed that the people got panicky due to the deployment of Army at toll plazas. 

The Defence Ministry spokesperson said, “The army conducts an annual exercise throughout the county with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the Army in case of a contingency.”

 

"For this purpose, vehicles are spotted to get basic parameters like make load capacity etc. The vehicle is then marked so that the next checkpoint knows that the vehicle had already been checked for the parameters. There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders," he said.

According to the spokesman, the exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles that are passing a certain area that could be tapped during operations.

Troops, toll plazas, Mamata Banerjee, MoD, WB- India Tv
Mamata Banerjee alleged that troops have been deployed at two toll plazas in WB Photo: PTI