Mamata calls deployment ‘unprecedented’, Army says it’s routine.
Kolkata: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that Army personnel were deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway II without informing the state government and accused the Narendra Modi government of imposing a “civil war-like situation” in the state.
In a late development, the CM declared that she would spend the night at the state secretariat, Nabanna, and won’t leave her office until the Army personnel deployed at the toll plazas are not called back by the Central government.
“This is undemocratic, unconstitutional and unethical. This has been done with a political vendetta,” she said at a press conference called late Thursday evening to announce her plans.
She added that her government is an elected government and she is a custodian of democracy. “I will stay here until the deployment of Army personnel has been withdrawn.”
Earlier in the day, the CM called a press conference to allege that her government learnt about the deployment of Army personnel at Dankuni and Palsit toll plazas, and that her government had the information verified.
“This kind of unprecedented interference in a state government’s affairs shows that this Central government has scant respect for the Constitution and federal structure of the country,” Ms Banerjee said.
She described the matter as “very serious” and said she has asked the chief secretary to write to the Centre in this regard. “I shall also apprise the President,” the CM said.
At her second press conference, she also claimed about receiving reports from other districts as well, stating that Army had deployed some of its personnel in those places in the last few days while “keeping the state administration in complete darkness”.
She claimed to have not had any prior information about the deployment. “There are times when Army is deployed in civil areas during disasters. But that is done with prior information. Even if it is a drill, the permission of the state should have been sought,” she said.
The CM sought to question if Emergency has been imposed in the country. “It is only during Emergency that the Centre can take over state’s powers. If this is happening in Bengal today, it can happen in Punjab tomorrow,” she said.
When contacted, Eastern Command CPRO Wing Commander S.S. Birdi said that the Army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country to obtain statistical data on load carriers that could be put to use in case of a contingency. “There is nothing alarming about it and is done out as per government orders. This (exercise) gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing a certain area that could be tapped during operations,” he said, adding the exercise would continue till Friday.