Kolkata, December 1: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday took her battle against Centre’s demonetisation move to next level as she refused to leave state secretariat Nabanna protesting presence of Army men at toll plazas. Mamata Banerjee has alleged that the Centre has deployed Army personnel at two toll plazas on the national highway without informing the state government and also accused the Narendra Modi government of creating a situation “worse than Emergency”.
On the other side, Army Eastern Command clarified that Army deployment was “a routine exercise with full knowledge and in coordination with the West Bengal Police”. Speculation of Army taking over toll plaza incorrect, the Eastern command said.
Talking to reporters at the state secretariat, Mamata alleged Army was deployed at two toll plazas at Palsit and Dankuni on NH 2.
“Army has been deployed at two toll plazas without informing the state government. This is a very serious situation worse than Emergency,” she said. “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 asked.
“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 it is mock-trial, the state government is informed,” she said.
Banerjee claimed people got panic due to the deployment of Army at the toll plazas. When contacted, a defence spokesperson said the Army conducts bi-annual exercise throughout the country to get statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the force in case of a contingency.
“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders,” Wing Commander SS Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate of the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.