New Delhi: The TMC raises the issue of “army deployment in West Bengal” in the Lok Sabha as does the Congress in the Rajya Sabha. Congress MP Ghulam Nabi Azad says, “It seems out of the way. Army doesn’t collect toll! There is no law and order issue in WB for Army to be deployed,” Azad said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar replies in the Lok Sabha. “Saddening that a routine exercise has been made a controversy now. Concerned officials were intimated by Army this year too. Original dates were 28,29 & 30 Dec, were changed to 1st and 2nd Dec later. It is army’s routine exercise being carried out since many years, 19th and 21st November 2015 it had taken place too. Army had informed state, this is a routine exercise. ”
The Army also held a press conference and said that this is an annual exercise, similar exercise took place earlier too. Checks in all entry and exit points with various states. Bengal government’s allegations on money collection baseless. Army completed data collection near Bengal secretariat and withdrew.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday alleged that the Army was deployed at two toll plazas on National Highway 2 by the Centre without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented and a serious matter.”
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.”
The Eastern command in a statement said, “Its a routine exercise with full knowledge & coordination with West Bengal Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect.”
The Army also asked the West Bengal government for proof on allegations that it had collected money at the toll plazas.